I was climbing Ben Nevis with my family. As we approached the snow line two young soldiers came back. An experienced climber ahead, had told them they could not climb without crampons. Should we go on without them? We decided we would continue but abort at the first sign of trouble. With great joy we made it to the top.
Thinking about this man, I realised that, having invested so heavily in his equipment, he probably felt the need to justify it. This may have led him to discourage others by making out it was impossible to go on without the gear he had purchased. It had been hard going without crampons, but with care, we made it safely.
This situation occurs all the time in Christian circles. Those who have been helped in their walk with God by a spiritual pathway think everyone else needs the same journey. Unless you have this spiritual gift you are never going to really experience God. If you really want to understand, you have to learn Greek. I know I suffer from this. I would love everyone to spend time in the Bible and prayer like I do.
Paul writes, ‘ but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.’ (Eph 2:13 NIV) It does not matter how near or far a person is spiritually from Christ, we are brought near by Jesus’ sacrifice. People spend their lives developing a spiritual pathway to God. The Lord applauds it; He delights in those who spend time with Him. However there is always a final obstacle – the huge dividing wall of sin. The only way through is by Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Whether a person’s spirituality puts them right next door to God or a million miles away, the step to being right with God is the same – through Christ.
The telephone line is a great equaliser, the sound quality is the same however far the call. The clarity from someone next door is the same as to someone the other side of the world. So with Jesus, ‘He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.’ (Eph 2:17 NIV)
There are a couple of practical applications from this.
We are all members of His household. How much more inside can you get? This frees us from being driven by insecurity to try and enter the inner circle with Jesus. That drive of insecurity also drives out love! So, since we are secure in Christ because of His sacrifice, not because of our spirituality, we are free to love.
When there is a dividing wall of hostility between Christians or groups of Christians, there is a sort of short circuit that brings immediacy between them. It is through the blood of Jesus. The great equaliser. For each of us there is one step between us and Christ. If I am one step from Christ, and they are one step from Christ, then we are two steps from each other. In taking those steps I bypass the dividing wall of hostility. It still needs to be dealt with, but when my start point is that we are in fellowship because of Jesus’ death on the cross the process is much easier. The only question is am I willing to take those steps?