Lent Devotion 6: Open Door for the Broken and Accused
‘Since we have confidence to enter the Most holy place through the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us by His body, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and full assurance of faith…’ (Heb. 10: 19-22)
My friend Dean Greer returned broken to the church of his youth. He had left years earlier to explore the homosexual life; fed up with his folly and under the death sentence of HIV, he needed a place to rebuild his life. He discovered a hard truth: ‘The church extols the virtue of getting saved but once you’re in the doors they spend the rest of the time hiding all the things they came to get saved from!’
A broken man, Dean needed an open door though which he could discover broken Jesus in His broken body. He could not return to the old dispensation–secrets and lies–he needed to be known and loved by others the way Jesus had loved the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8: 1-12).
Like her, he was under the judgment of his sin and shame. And like her he needed to be surrounded by fellow sinners who might drop their stones before the Crucified and help him ‘sin no more.’ Through the church, Dean needed an encounter with beautiful Jesus that would surpass the pleasures of sin and stimulate truer, deeper aspirations.
Jesus ‘saved’ Dean years ago. Through fellow believers in the one broken body, he has been getting saved ever since.
The church at Philadelphia needed holy rescue (Rev. 3: 7-13). Christians there were few and harassed. Surrounded by Jewish persecutors who insisted that their claims to salvation were preposterous, the door of faith appeared to be closing in Philadelphia. Jesus reminded them: ‘See, I have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut. I know you have little strength, yet you have kept My word and have not denied My Name…Hold on to what you have, so that no-one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of God.’ (Rev. 3: 8, 11, 12)
The church today is being harassed by all manner of secrets and lies. Church-based ministries that offer hope to people like Dean are persecuted on all sides. That ‘gay marriage’ is even considered by some Christians to be a just alternative belies the truth of how God made us and how He wants to redeem us.
And yet the good news of redemption cannot be stifled. The open door of God’s Mercy cannot be shut! Through Christ’s body, Dean (and hundreds like him) has discovered a river of life that has ruined him from returning to old ways of sexual sin and religious pretense.
What the church needs today is more than another stern lecture on conservative sexual ethics. Many abusive priests were ‘good conservatives.’ Of course we need the truth. But unless that truth leads us to merciful reliance upon Jesus and His body, that truth can imprison and accuse us.
Jesus clarifies the prisons we are in in order to open the doors of those prisons. He is the door that cannot be shut: the new and living way opened for us by His shed blood and made real to us by His broken body. I am proud to be among those who are morally weak and yet strong in Mercy; together, we persevere in holy love and overcome all manner of deception.
Now we offer ourselves to others in gratitude. Having been saved by His broken body, we become that body broken for others. Once unstable and divided, we are being transformed into pillars that support His house, now and forever.
‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some do, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as we see the Day approaching.’ (Heb. 10: 25)
‘I will make the valley of judgment a door of hope.’ (Hosea 2:15)
‘With solid reason is there hope for me in Him because You Father will heal all my infirmities through Him who sits at Your right hand and intercedes for us. Were it not so I would despair. Many and grave are those infirmities, many and grave, but wider-reaching is Your healing power.’ – St. Augustine