For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:12-16 (ESV)
Have you ever pondered the progression of those verses?
The all-encompassing exposure of the word of God. The very thoughts and intentions of our hearts laid bare before His all-seeing eyes. Those deepest secrets and vulnerabilities that we almost never show to anyone (and might not even be honest about to ourselves), revealed to the all-knowing God of creation.
Nothing hidden. An accounting required.
Enter: our High Priest. Empathetic. Gracious. Merciful. Empowering.
He experienced all the same experiences, but without our sinful reactions. He acutely knows our weakness juxtaposed against his steadfast holiness.
He doesn’t recoil in disgust from our ugly sinfulness. Rather, He sympathizes with our weakness. Instead of censure, we are given bold and confident access to the throne of grace. Infinite stores of mercy and grace to help in time of need.
Jesus Christ’s familiarity with our worst doesn’t breed contempt. It breeds unconditional love.
Familiarity breeds contempt
We find we are quite fond of people in casual relationships with them. We see their good points and experience their good sides.
But, as we pursue deeper relationships, both individually and in the body, and as we grow closer, it is much harder to keep from scratching or shattering those rose-colored glasses. As we interact, we bump against sharp edges-habits, sin, personalities, preferences, attitudes, motives. The more familiar we become, the more challenging it can be to love one another in leu of feeling contempt for one another.
Whether in our families or in the church, we tend to ignore our own weaknesses while focusing on someone else’s. Instead of mercy, sympathy and grace, we all too quickly throw in the towel.
At arm’s length we offer judgement and criticism, instead of digging down and drawing near. Forgiveness, mercy, help in time of need.
But God intends for us to persevere in our relationships to levels of vulnerability and openness, honesty and genuine love. Persevering to where we feel safety in being who we are, nothing hidden. Where mutual growing to spiritual maturity is encouraged while loving as Christ loves.
Here at AssemblyHUB, we love the assemblies. Most of the authors have grown up in the assemblies, and as adults have chosen to remain in the assemblies.
But, I’m also sure it is very obvious (to any of our regular readers), that we do not view the assemblies through rose colored glasses. We see our godly heritage and traditions juxtaposed against many faults and fault lines.
Sometimes when reading the same strain of comment no matter what we write, it feels like we are beating our heads against a brick wall. We wonder if no one else sees these problems as problems, and how can they not, because they are so obvious???!!!
Sometimes, it’s a hard row to hoe, navigating that familiarity without leaning into contempt.
We want to encourage growth. Challenge thinking. Create conversation. But not at the expense of leaving the assemblies and our readers feeling naked and exposed, battered and not encouraged. We want to write from a position of humility and teachability, because unlike Jesus Christ, we are not faultless. We want to write from a place of vulnerability and hope. We want to write from a place of extended mercy and grace, intending to help-not pick fights or poke holes or win arguments.
We want to be more like our great and merciful, sympathetic and gracious, faithful and interceding High Priest. We will do our best to emulate Him in the articles we post this year.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any other author or an official position of the assemblyHUB team.