1088) Meeting Your Maker (a)

Ephesians 3:12  —  In Jesus Christ, and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

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     What does it mean to approach God?  When do you approach God?

     We are, of course, always in the presence of God.  God knows all and sees all and is always and everywhere present.  But to approach God as it says in the verse, seems to suggest something on our part that brings us into God’s presence in a more specific way.  There are at least a couple ways we do that.

     First of all, we approach God in worship and prayer.  Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there with them.  When we worship together, we are approaching God, and Paul says we can do that with confidence and freedom because of Christ Jesus.  This is one way we approach God.

     Another time we approach God is when we die.  Sometimes we even speak of death in terms of going to meet your Maker.  So how does that strike you?  Is the thought of meeting your Maker an unpleasant, even terrifying, thought for you?  Or, is meeting your Maker something you look forward to with eager anticipation and hope?  Paul says we can also approach that time of meeting our Maker, God, with freedom and confidence.

     In John 14:1-6 Jesus describes to the disciples how it will be when we approach God in death, a time many people approach with fear and dread.  But Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God.  Trust in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms…  I am going there to prepare a place for you; and I will come back and take you to be with me, so that you also may be where I am.”  That is what Jesus came to earth to tell us about, and, he came to die so that our sins could be forgiven so that we could go to that place where Jesus is.

     But the disciples have a question.  It is a reasonable and important question that should also be on our minds.  Thomas asked Jesus where he was going and how we can get there.  “Lord,” he said, “we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Paul includes those same directions in Ephesians 3:12.  It is in Christ Jesus, and through faith in Him, that we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

     The 2009 movie My Sister’s Keeper tells the story of a teenage girl who dies of cancer.  The story had some other things going on, but on one level, it was the touching story of a loving family facing a terrible tragedy.  I am always interested in seeing how movies like that deal with matters of faith and hope in God.  This one, like many, said nothing about faith in God.  That is how many people face death– without looking to God for anything.

     What was interesting, however, was the hope and confidence that was expressed even without any mention of God, or any other foundation for such a hope.  Family members said several times in the movie that they would all be together again and be happy once more, and how the dying girl would now be with her boyfriend who had previously died of cancer.  It is not uncommon today for people to take such blessings for granted, while at the same time rejecting faith in the only solid foundation for such a hope.

     Where does such confident hope come from if not from one who died and rose from the dead?  If I did not believe in Jesus and his resurrection from the dead, and in his promise to me that believing in him I too may live again, I do not know where else I would find such hope.  All evidence certainly seems to go against any such a confident assertion.  It is because I believe that God gave me this life in the first place that I believe God can give me life again, even after this body he has loaned me for a little while gives out and dies.  But without any reference to God or Jesus or the Bible in which that is all described, where else would one go for any hope?  According to all other evidence, dead is dead, and that is it.  Am I missing something?

     Paul said we can approach God with freedom and confidence because Jesus had said, “I go on ahead to prepare a place for you, and I will come back for you.”  No one else has ever said that, and no one else has ever done that– you can check it out.  No other religious leader has ever even made that claim, or much less, backed it up with their own resurrection.  Look at all the scientific evidence and look at all the other religions of the world; look wherever you want.  Nowhere else with you find any reason to hope for life beyond the grave.  (continued…)

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John 6:68  —  From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

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Into your hands I commit my spirit;

Deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

–Psalm 31:5

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