The door is open for all

041316 open gateEvery so often I peruse my drafts folder and find something I wrote way back when but didn’t ever publish. Somehow what didn’t fit then becomes a word I needed now. I find old Elizabeth preaching to today’s Elizabeth, while I kick myself thinking, “Why didn’t that message stick then?” Perhaps I just wasn’t ready for it.

Today’s post is one such example (last week’s Words on Repeat is another). I wrote this last fall, but couldn’t bring myself to finish or post it. Then, I plumb forgot about it as the whirligig of time moved full speed ahead.

Today’s me needed reminding that I am loved and valuable. Perhaps you might need the same thing. And so, I offer some months-old reflection on Hebrews 10.

Following Jesus sometimes feels like standing on a teeter-totter trying to keep it balanced.¬† And I’m not very good at staying in the balanced spot.

041316 cross

God welcomes us in all our messiness and wants us to have confidence approaching Him. And at the same time, God’s welcome is not thrown at us cheaply. Jesus loved humanity at great cost to himself.

Jesus suffered for humanity. Jesus saw humans in all their brokenness, in their addictions, in their weakness and decided humanity was worth the cost of his suffering.

We matter. No matter what other voices may tell us, we have value in the eyes of Jesus. No one can strip that from you or I. We don’t earn or achieve it, nor can it be stolen from us.

Some days I struggle with this part. I buy into the lie that I earn love by being good, competent, smart or pretty. Or I lose love when I can’t keep my life together. I want to hide and hole up when I think I’m less than my best. The shame voice starts talking.

What helps me out of this place is exactly what Hebrews describes: my community. A few crucial people remind me of who (and Whose) I am, and they push and prod me into moving again. This is part of what church is meant to do, and I’m not convinced this type of encouragement comes from facing forward during weekend church services. I think it comes from having a circle of people with whom you share gritty real life in all its ups and downs. Having a person or people in your life who can tell you the blunt truth AND do it from a place of unrelenting love is a tremendous gift.

Here’s the beautiful reality: God knows the depth of our messiness and brokenness, the parts of us we recoil from in shame, the things we wish nobody could see. Those yucky, ugly pieces we think no one can love. God knows us entirely. And God still loves us and invites us to come running toward Jesus. The door is open for all. You and I are more precious than we know.

The love doesn’t stop there. Since we are so deeply welcomed by God, we’re beckoned to love others from that overflow. We’re called to be a people who loved as Jesus loved. Not out of obligation, but out of the abundance we have received from God. To be a people who spur each other on toward love and good deeds.

This is my hope as we come to Jesus and find ourselves welcomed: that we are transformed into people who relentlessly encourage each other. That we remember, even as we are deeply loved and welcomed, life is not just about our reception but also the way we receive others. Out of the overflow we’ve received, may we become the kind of people who welcome others the way Jesus did.

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