Thursday, September 30, 2010

Give us clean hands

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 39

Read: Psalm 1:1-24:10

Verse that Stood out: The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it - Psalm 24:1

Psalm 24 reminds us that the whole world belongs to the LORD. Being a part of that world, we should worship him in his glory. And yet, the Psalm pauses to ask, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” The answer is downright daunting, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.” Not just anyone can approach the king and live. Only those who are worthy may approach the throne, those who have lived rightly and practiced justice. We may read this and think, no one can ascend the hill of the Lord. Who, after all, has clean hands? Who hasn’t in some way wronged a neighbor? Who is pure in heart? Who consistently remains single minded in their commitment to the Lord? That all have fallen short of the glory of God, there is no doubt.

The ancient worshiper knew this full well. They weren’t saying that no one could come to worship. Remember, this is liturgy not law. Read during temple worship, this wasn’t a checklist required for admittance so much as an invitation, or maybe even a warning, concerning what worship was all about. The priest or whoever it was manning the temple gates was making it clear – you want to come and see the Owner? Come and seek His righteousness, his blessing, his redemption? Be sure, then, and understand what it is you are doing. If you ascend this hill, He’ll give you nothing less than his best, which means the doing in of all that’s the worst in you: a kind of death for sure, but also a resurrection to new life.

As Christians, we see in that invitation, the call of Christ, who has become for us our righteousness. We are not worthy to come into the Owner’s presence, but Christ has made a way. But beware, the way is costly. It will cost us our disobedience, it will cost us our selfishness, it will cost us all that is less than God’s best. If we enter his presence we must be prepared to say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We shall indeed receive God’s blessing, but a blessing wrought through the refining fire of God’s Spirit at work in us. Such is the generation of those who seek God’s face.

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