The Different Place, part 3

     I’ve been suggesting a different attitude for Christian living, one that leads us to a different place. Let’s describe that different place a little better. We will turn to Hebrews 12 and read the contrast between the Israelites at Mount Sinai (where they received the 10 Commandments) and Christians at Mount Zion:

     For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear."

     But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:18-24).

     Notice the contrast. The time of the Old Covenant was one of physical experiences (“what may be touched”). The display of God’s presence was designed to inspire fear (fire, darkness, gloom, tempest, loud). This brought fear because the people knew they could not measure up to the perfection that a relationship with such a being required (“they could not endure the order given”). Even Moses was affected.

     But we relate to God in a heavenly way. Though we could fear God as the judge of all, we do not, for Jesus is our mediator. His blood has made us perfect so we are able to gather with the spirits of the righteous.

     I have known “Christians” that thought they related to God on the basis of following his commands. They did not even have the spiritual sense to fear that they could not keep the commands completely. The history of the Israelites shows that we must not rely on this method. Instead we rely on our spiritual relationship with God through Jesus. This still leads us to heed the commands of God! As the scripture in Hebrews goes on to say:

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).

    Due to our gratitude that God would grant us such a wonderfully assured place with him, we live our lives in reverence and awe. We make this choice, in part, because God is a consuming fire. But we know that the fire is reserved for the unrighteous. When we act in gratitude for what God has done for us, we know that we are not in that classification. Let us continue in that faithfulness without fear.

Gary Greene

Scripture quotations taken from the English Standard Version.

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