But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9: 11, 12

 

Over the years of our existence upon this earth, people have done many things that have been intended to win God’s favor and to secure our places in His presence. Some of this effort was even a part of what God dictated to us to do, and much of it has been made up by various ones of us out of our own creativity or by virtue of some other motivation. Most of us still engage in activities and in personal rituals that we think will improve our status or position in God’s eyes. We attempt to avoid the deep soul-level commitment to Christ and the personal surrender to Him that is God’s real requirement and we attempt to do works that will demonstrate our goodness to the world and thus do the same in God’s view of us. When we think and act like this, we are engaging in human futility as we attempt to do for ourselves something that Christ has already fully accomplished for us.

 

As we are in Christ, so we are also in God’s favor. When we submit our lives to Christ’s authority and thus to His direction and will, we are living out our lives in the center of God’s righteousness and are walking in His holy path. There is no need for purification prior to this journey, for Christ has accomplished those sacrifices for us. Also, we do not have need for ritual cleansing as a result of our contact with the world, for Christ’s blood provides a permanent form of such restorative touch. It does not wear off, become tainted by the world, or grow less effective over time. Christ grants His people the gift of a continuous and unending, thus an eternal, covering of right standing before the absolute holiness of God. As we have given ourselves to Christ, so our state as people who are dead in our sins is transformed into one in which we are granted spiritual life for the balance of our days on this earth and a place in the presence of the Lord for all of eternity to come.

 

All of this is a small part of what Jesus accomplished by and through His obedience to the Father in giving up Himself to be sacrificed on the cross. We have been redeemed from our rightful places as eternally condemned beings, and we have been granted the extraordinary gift of place and position in God’s kingdom come into our world while we are also provided with assurance of a future of dwelling for eternity with Christ in Heaven. There is both freedom and responsibility in all of this. We are free from the need to frequently and regularly be going before God to seek His forgiveness for our sins so that we can engage in serving Him and in order to remain secure in our eternal status. Yet, we are now obligated to obediently serve Christ and to follow His righteous way of thinking, speaking, and acting; so, the gift of life comes with a holy and a heavenly purpose for our lives attached to it. All of the days of our lives and each of the actions and interactions that are contained within them are to be dedicated and carried out as servants of Christ. Thus, each of our lives can serve as a blessing to our world that is given in the name of Christ, our perfect High Priest and Savior.

Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!

2 Corinthians 9: 15

 

We receive many gifts from God. He grants them to us out of His great love and in response to our enormous neediness. There is no end to God’s generosity and awareness of our condition. The essential needs, wants, and aspirations of our lives are met through the Lord’s open-handed giving. This world where we live was designed and created with us in mind. I believe that each step in that great creative process involved the addition of another layer, an additional component and quality, to this life sustaining environment that we call Earth. It was into this perfect place that the Creator inserted His image-bearing masterworks and provided us with purpose and meaning for our lives in the responsibility that we were given for taking care of all of this world.

 

Yet, that is not enough. This large and all-encompassing responsibility is totally insufficient for us to have a true and abiding place and significance in this life. As we live in the brokenness of sin and the lostness of our separation from God our very best efforts at management, control, and real dominion over this earth will be frustrated and defeated in the end. Death will always have the last laugh, and people are faced with the prospect of an empty eternity to reflect on all that was lost. This is where God’s singular greatest gift matters. Although the rest of what God gives to us is amazing, fabulous, and near perfection; it is Christ alone that makes a real and a lasting difference.

 

In Christ, God gives us Himself. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus, we gain back that intimate and unceasing communion with God that the first people enjoyed before their disastrous disobedience. This is a gift that God determined to grant to us out of His gracious love and relentless desire to draw us into His presence. The gift of life that is found only in and through Christ is worthy of our most abundant expressions of thanksgiving and praise. In Christ all of the purpose and meaning that God granted to us in His design of our world is given its eternal focus and its true worth. Christ brings to us God’s gifts of reconciliation, justice, and peace and asks only that we give Him our thanks through focused worship, faithful obedience, and devoted service.

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

2 Corinthians 9: 11

 

God is very generous. He gives us everything that we truly need and more. In fact, God’s generosity is very interesting to consider. He gives to people who ignore Him and even to those who reject Him, and He waits like an impatient grandparent at Christmas to give all of Himself to everyone who enters into relationship with Him. God fills His people with all that we are willing to accept; then, He keeps on presenting His bounty of love to us to accept even more. Yet, God’s granting of Himself to us is quite different from the way that most of us operate as He gives to us so that we can give it all away to others.

 

Christ poured Himself out on the cross so that all of humanity would have the opportunity and the ability to know God. This great gift of life is the culmination of God’s plan for the redemption of people from the condemnation of sin. However, a person’s acceptance of this gift is only the beginning of Christ’s infilling of that person with the totality of the gift that we can call true life. This new life reaches toward its highest and best function when we accept these gifts of truth, wisdom, understanding, love, grace, mercy, and acceptance as ours and then, in Christ’s name, grant all of them to the world.

 

Christ does not give to us so that we can possess and hold. He gives to us so that we can bless the world with the presence of God in tangible form. We are to be people who love all other people and all of creation with the same sort of uncompromising and sacrificial passion that Jesus demonstrated for us. He entered into the lives of the people who crossed His path and gave all of Himself to them without precondition or qualification. Jesus knew that many if not most of the people that He engaged with the Father’s message of truth would reject Him. However, Jesus did not cease in His absolute giving. As a follower of Christ, this is a difficult example to follow totally, but committing my life to being a giver of God’s gifts is one of the greatest ways that I can express my thanks to God for the life that I have in Him.