Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Heb 4:16-18 The Message
A new American ambassador arrived here a few months ago, and to help welcome him, the embassy planned an exceptional Fourth of July celebration. The guest list was so big that even we were on it, the first time in years.
Our invitation, personally delivered by a man in an impeccable business suit, included information about parking. Rather than hunt for a spot on the cramped city streets, we could park in an offsite lot. From there, shuttle buses would ferry us and the rest of the guests to the embassy.
Then a friend, who was also a high-ranking official at another embassy, offered to pick us up on his way. We expected a ride in his SUV, but instead he showed up at our house driven by a chauffeur in a gleaming car with diplomatic license plates.
I confess I felt pretty special as we drove by the offsite parking area crowded with buses and cars and people waiting for the shuttle. The chauffeur took us right up to the security checkpoint at the embassy where I assumed we were going to be dropped off.
But when the driver told the security guard who was in the car [our important friend, not us of course], we were waved on. The security bar was lifted and we drove past the very, very, very long line of guests waiting for their turn at the check-in table. I remembered standing in a similar line years earlier, inching my way forward not much faster than an earthworm. Now I felt like royalty.
At the VIP entrance officials stood at attention to greet the dignitaries who merited special treatment. The driver opened my door and I stepped out. We didn’t have to push our way through a crowd. We simply gave our invitations and immediately we were escorted along a carpeted path.
Almost but not quite like these greeters for real royalty
When an American official who knows Jack saw us, he said in a friendly way but with some surprise, “What are you doing in the VIP line?” It was a question I asked myself as we were welcomed by a string of embassy officials.
I knew I didn’t belong. I had never presented diplomatic credentials to the country’s king. I had never attended foreign policy meetings. Our friend was well-accustomed to life in the VIP line, and he strolled along without any worries. I stayed right behind him and tried to act as confidently as I could. But as I shook hands, I had a nagging fear that I was making some horrendous faux pas and someone would realize I didn’t have the right to be there and take me out.
Then we entered the embassy garden and I joined the rest of the guests. I spent the rest of the evening basking in my Cinderella experience as waiters in black jackets served me hors d’oeuvres. I danced to the Navy band. I watched a wonderful fireworks display.
And when it came time to leave, the chauffeur magically appeared at the VIP entrance and whisked us away, past the tired crowds waiting for the shuttle buses to take them back to their cars.
God’s VIP line
But the diplomatic fast track pales in comparison to the VIP line I can use any time I want. If I need to talk with the King of Kings, I can walk directly into His presence. I don’t even have to show an ID or go through security.
It wasn’t always like that. 2000 years ago, if you were a Gentile, you weren’t welcome in God’s temple. Your presence would desecrate the holy place and you could be put to death. Even God’s own chosen people were restricted in how close they could get to Him.
A large outer tent was set up…This was called ‘the Holy Place.’…Then a curtain was stretched, and behind it a smaller, inside tent set up. This was called ‘the Holy of Holies’… Only the high priest entered the smaller, inside tent, and then only once a year, offering a blood sacrifice for his own sins and the people’s accumulated sins. Hebrews 9:1-8 The Message
Now, because God sent Jesus, anyone can get a permanent VIP pass, Jew or Gentile. My past, littered with broken laws, unpaid penalties, and rebellion against the King, no longer keeps me out. By His death, Jesus erased all of this from the record books and gave me direct access to the Father.
I am free to go straight in to the Holy of Holies. I don’t have to offer a sacrifice. I don’t have to prove myself worthy. I am ushered into the presence of the almighty God where I can meet with Him face to face, sit at His feet and listen to Him, pour out my heart to Him.
So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into ‘the Holy Place.’ ..So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Hebrews 10:19, 21 The Message
Spectacular to ho-hum
You would think I would never forget the tremendous privilege I have. But at times I become complacent. I lose my awe–not so much my awe at who God is, but my awe of who I once was and who Jesus has made me to be.
I confess that I begin to feel extra-special. I start to look down at the people around me who don’t know there’s an invitation for them, or people who have tossed theirs in the trash.
I become proud that I was chosen to be part of God’s family. I criticize those outside the gate who are trying to work their way in, or those who are hoping they can slip a bribe and sneak in the back entrance–even though I’ve been known to try the same tactics. Perhaps worst of all, I judge people I don’t think are worthy enough to be in God’s VIP line.
Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life… none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God. I Corinthians 1:26-31 The Message
That’s what my VIP pass should motivate me to do: to go out into my neighborhood and blow God’s horn for the lost and lonely.
I want to put away feeling smug. Instead I want to be eager to tell others how I was given a fresh start. I want to let them know Jesus has an invitation with their name written in His precious blood-red ink. I want to share how this invitation enables them to use God’s VIP entrance. And that when they go in, they will find their Father waiting to welcome them home, just as He did with me.
May I never forget, “ I’m just a nobody tryin’ to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody.”
What about you?
Are you using your VIP pass with God?
And who do you want to deliver an invitation to?