What about visitors? Can people just knock on your door at any time of day or night and expect a welcome? Or would you like to be notified in advance? Better still, would you prefer people to wait until you issue an invitation?
Today's Psalm is about being welcome in God's house. That isn't the church, even though we sometimes call the church building "God's house". And, in the Psalmist's time, it wasn't the Temple in Jerusalem, either. The Temple wasn't for people who were good enough. If that was the case, why would they have all those sacrifices? The Temple was a reminder that no-one is good enough to live in the presence of God. Only the High Priest could enter the holiest place in the Temple - and then only once a year - and he had to offer sacrifices for his own sins first. Nobody, not even the high priest, was good enough in him-/her- self to go into the presence of God.
The Psalm is a reminder that God looks on the heart. He sees what is hidden in thought and word, attitude and action. In Psalm 24.3-4 we read, "Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 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."
God looks for both "clean hands" - right actions - and a "pure heart" - right thoughts and motives. God isn't some kind of Santa Claus who doesn't really know - or care - who's "naughty or nice." He really knows!
Looked at in that light, it can be all rather daunting. The wonder of God's love is that, knowing what he does about us, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3.16). That's what we call "grace" - the gift we don't deserve.
God's "house rules" haven't changed, but he welcomes us, not because we are good enough (we aren't!), not because the rules and standards don't matter (they do!), but because Jesus - the only one who hasn't broken the rules - died on the cross to take the penalty for all our infringements, for all our sins. When we put our trust in Jesus, God includes us "in him."
|Prayer: Father, you know us through and through. We cannot hide from you. You know all our motives, all our thoughts - our anxieties and fears, our hopes and aspirations, our altruism and selfishness, our good intentions and bad performance You know us and love us. You sent your Son, Jesus. He alone has lived the perfect life. He alone is worthy to live in your presence. You sent him and he gave his life for our sins. We put our trust in him. You see us "in him". Grant us to live today with clean hands and a pure heart in all we do. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.|
comes the longing
to be home.
But who am I?
Yet I hear
the call to come -
not just the call of my heart,
but the call of the Father.
And as I come
I see a cross -
the Son has died,
the price is paid -
and a mat is out
and arms of love -
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