How Do We Draw Close to God?
Stepping gingerly on slick mud sparsely covered by fallen leaves in the jungle, I drew near to a Mayan Temple named Chacchoben.
Listening to the bilingual guide explain how Mayans built temples to draw near to God, I thought how often we do the same. We work tirelessly to create a ministry or home to please the Lord.
But while the Mayans built temples out of rock, the Lord built temples out of flesh and blood.
Do you not know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? … for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3: 17 – 18 BSB.
Sometimes it is easier to believe that a pile of rock is holy than it is to believe that God’s Spirit dwells in us making us holy. Why is that?
Rain fell gently as I began the steep dangerous climb to the top of Gran Basamento just above the tree line. The Mayan Priest would climb to the very top of Chacchoben in order to draw nearer to God.
What do we do to draw nearer to God? Read our bible every day? Attend church weekly? Pray continually? These tasks don’t make us righteous.
The Mayans built temples, attended religious ceremonies, and prayed to many gods. But these tasks didn’t make them righteous either.
They didn’t know that God sent Christ to earth. Or that Christ forgives our sins without requiring us to pour out our life blood. Jesus poured out his instead in God’s perfect plan of redemption for our souls.
All that God required is to believe in Jesus, to repent from sin, and ask Him for forgiveness.
Is it difficult for you to ask God to forgive you? Do you prefer to praise and thank the Lord for his goodness? Nothing wrong with words of praise and a heart of gratitude. But I don’t want to miss out asking Christ to cleanse my hands and purify my heart from sin. And I don’t want you to miss out either.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. James 4: 8 NLT
Near the top of Chacchoben, the priest would offer a human sacrifice to please the many gods they worshiped. The Mayans believed dying in childbirth or sacrificing your life would allow your soul to go straight to the upper world. They believed that evil gods lived in the underworld, but this journey could be avoided by the sacrifice of their human life.
Christianity has some similarities, but one important difference. Our High Priest didn’t ask for us to sacrifice our life blood. We have not lived a perfect life and could never take away our own sin much less for anyone else.
But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Hebrews 10: 12 NLT
Instead of us climbing up the steep dangerous steps to God, Jesus stepped down into our world.
God sent Christ to be good news of great joy for all the people, even shepherds.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord! And this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2 : 10 – 12 BSB
So how did the shepherd’s draw near to God?
They hurried to find Jesus. When they saw Jesus, they spread the word about what they had heard about this child.
For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given,
and the government will be upon His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on the throne of David
and over his kingdom,
to establish and sustain it
with justice and righteousness
from that time and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9 : 6 – 7 BSB
So how will you respond to Christ?
Will you hurry to find Jesus? And once you find him, will you spread the word about what you have heard?
In a sermon today, Connor Neigenfind reminded me of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus had climbed a tree to see Jesus over the crowd. When Jesus saw him in the tree, he didn’t keep walking past. Instead he stated that he would be staying at his house! Talk about inviting yourself over!
And because Jesus took the time to speak to someone who wasn’t viewed favorably with the people, Zacchaeus’ heart was changed.
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will repay it fourfold.”
Luke 19: 8 BSB
He too desired to draw near to God and have his actions please the Lord. And this is how Jesus replied to him:
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19: 9- 10 BSB
Your call to action
What burdens are you carrying that you need forgiveness? Or do you know someone who needs forgiveness, but doesn’t know Jesus Christ? Someone who may be lost and searching.
This Christmas when you see a person who isn’t viewed favorably, will you be willing to visit their house? To invite yourself into their life? To get to know them and share Christ with them?
Do you know that Jesus prayed for you?
I am not asking on behalf of them (disciples) alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me.
Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, that they may see the glory You gave Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, although the world has not known You, I know You, and they know that You sent Me. And I have made Your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love You have for Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17 : 20 – 25 BSB
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Additional Information about Chacchoben