Take time to REALLY read this passage below in Hebrews 10.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
- Hebrews 10:19-25 (emphasis mine)
WOW! Did you get it all? Look at what this mysterious author is saying. He reminds Christ-followers of a couple blessings we have as a result of Christ’s work on the cross.
We now have ACCESS! (verse 20)
That’s right, because Jesus died on the cross, we are not only forgiven, but we now have confident access to the holy places. Before Jesus, God’s people could only hope to have access through a priest. A priest who would slip behind an earthly curtain into the holy of holies for a couple of minutes a year. Now, we have personal and permanent access through the blood and torn body of Christ on the cross.
We now have ADVOCACY! (verse 21)
Before the earthly high priest would wear twelve stones on his breastplate—over his heart—to represent his people (Exodus 28:21) and representative stones on his shoulder as well, for “Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for remembrance” (Exodus 28:12).
Now Jesus, our ultimate advocate, bears our names not just over his body and heart, but in the very center of his being, for we are in him, our advocate! Even more, he is our constant high priest. His intercession never ceases! (Kent Hughes)
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO THESE GREAT BLESSINGS?
Look at what Hebrews says ought to the natural response to these blessings of access and advocacy.
- We should DRAW NEAR TO GOD in full assurance of faith.
- We should HOLD FAST TO THE CONFESSION OF OUR HOPE without wavering.
- We should NOT NEGLECT MEETING TOGETHER, but encourage one another, stir one another up.
I want to focus on that third response today.
Because of What Jesus has accomplished for us on the cross, it should drive us TO ONE ANOTHER, not away from one another. We should be compelled to gather, meet, live life together so that we can encourage and strengthen one another.
I fear in 2022 we have turned church into something that God never designed. We have turned it into just a service. Just another program. Just another informal collection of casual acquaintances who say they believe the same things and are headed to the same ultimate destination. We might see each other once a week or every other week, casually say high, and then go our separate ways. This is not what God designed.
The truth is we are a family. We are meant to root one another on. Encourage one another. Confess to one another. Love one another. Bear one another’s burdens. There are lots of “one another” commands in the bible for the church. They are only possible if all the “one anothers” come together.
How can you change the culture of our Sunday mornings? The culture of our church family gatherings? Maybe it can start with each of our individual families.
ACTION STEPS FOR SUNDAYS
Drawing on an excellent article by Gavin Ortlund, let me encourage you to “make Sundays sweet” by taking the following action steps:
1 – Recognize that you need your church and your church needs you. If you are hit-or-miss on a Sunday, it will impact your spiritual health. If you’re late or if you don’t engage in worship, it will impact your experience. And failing to take the corporate gathering seriously doesn’t help your brothers and sisters, who need your voice, your encouragement, your solidarity, your prayer, and your joy.
2 – Sanctify Saturday nights. If you have a big meeting coming up, then one thing you know to do is to get rest the night before. Athletes know that they need to prepare the day before a big event. The same is true for Sundays. Get rest on Saturday night, pray with your family, and consider reading Sunday’s sermon text around the dinner table. Tomorrow is a big day!
3 – Prepare for drama at home on Sunday morning! Drama may happen on Saturday night, but very often there are issues at home on Sunday mornings. The devil would love to make you grumpy on Sunday morning or to distract you, keeping the word from having its effect in you. Gavin Ortlund says, “So, when you climb into your minivan, tell yourself in advance, someone is probably going to spill their milk in the van, or pull their sister’s hair, or chuck their Bible out the window on the interstate. When that happens, I will pray rather than yell.”
4 – Have some special traditions on the day of corporate worship. After corporate worship, consider doing something that you reserve for this special day. This may involve a particular meal, or a long nap, meals with others, or afternoon tea and reading. Look at something beautiful or enjoy God’s creation on a walk, or a drive, or at a park. Whatever the case, make your day of corporate worship special and unique. Make these times so enjoyable that should you have kids, they will look back with delight on these experiences. Build holy and happy habits on the day of corporate worship. (Merida)
See you at church family!