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 4:16
God has invited us into a relationship with Him that is quite amazing. It is a relationship of confidence. Of boldness. We can boldly approach the King. Why? Because he is not just our king, he is our dad.
As we talked about this past Sunday, healthy relationships are rooted in things like vulnerability, empathy, grace, and honor. It is God’s vulnerability and empathy through the cross of Christ that allows us to experience his grace and honor through the resurrection of Christ.
Now we can come as we are to God. We come with no secrets fearing no condemnation. The relationship of shame and hiding with God is over and done away with. It has been replaced by a relationship characterized by boldness. Like an adult son that can enter into the chamber of his father, beyond where the slaves and younger children may go, this is our access to God. God’s own vulnerability has opened this door. Like the Beast, we often are shamed and live hidden away in a dark castle. But when the Beauty comes in everything can change. But we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable, open, and honest with the beauty of God.
We too should strive for relationships of vulnerability. Vulnerability breeds connection and love. Vulnerability with God empowers vulnerability with others. How vulnerable are you?
The incarnation of Jesus (God becoming man) has brought with it true empathy from God. Before this God of course intellectually knew everything about us, but not experientially. Jesus allows God to know us fully and to empathize with us. He has felt what we feel- all the pain, suffering, temptation, and fear that comes with being a human. His vulnerability produced empathy and understanding. This allows Jesus to be our great High Priest.
We too must live lives of empathy. Pity is feeling bad for someone. Sympathy is feeling bad and fixing their problem (often this is needed). But empathy is feeling what they feel, yet at the same time being able to keep a heavenly perspective, and then helping them gain that same perspective (a gospel perspective) which allows them to trust God in the problem. Discipleship is difficult without empathy. But with empathy, discipleship is able to guide to the Guide.
We often think of grace as second chances and forgiveness alone. But grace is much more. Grace fills up what is lacking in others. God’s grace didn’t just forgive you (the cross), it empowers you with the new life of Jesus inside of you (the resurrection). Grace is God giving you everything you need for life and godliness. It empowers you. Fills you. Loves you. Guides you. And changes your entire life motivation. You have a new operating system.
When we move out in grace we empower others. We fill up what is lacking. We bear burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. We don’t just forgive and forget. We forgive and reconcile. Grace is the power behind vulnerability and empathy.
Grace brings honor not shame. Again, God’s grace didn’t reveal our sin and even forgive our sin but then leave us in the mud with the pigs. Jesus didn’t forgive the deaf man and leave him deaf. He didn’t forgive the Syro-Phoenician woman and leave her daughter demon possessed. He didn’t send her away. He allowed her to gain honor. Grace gives dignity. Grace removes shame.
When we move forward in vulnerability and empathy empowered by grace the result will be honor. Praise. Edification. Shalom. As our Fighter Verse says: “mercy and help in time of need.” This is the language of honor not shame. Our verse does not tell us to crawl to God as peasants or dogs. It does not tell us to beg for mercy and help. Rather we come boldly expecting all the spiritual blessing of God because they have already been given- earned by the righteous life and blood of our dear Savior.