Thursday, December 17, 2015

Access Is Granted

Huge electronic scoreboards have become fixtures at major stadiums and arenas. Fans spend more time staring at computer-generated videos and graphics than they do watching the actual games. Have you ever wondered what those scoreboards look like on the inside?

Years ago Ohio Stadium was undergoing major expansion, and a new scoreboard was part of the renovation plan. A friend in Columbus, Doug, knew the project foreman. So when I was in town Doug asked if I’d like to take a tour of the updated stadium, including going inside the huge scoreboard. Buckeye fan that I am, I hesitated…for a nanosecond…then replied, “Do I want to see it? Do squirrels gather nuts for the winter?”

Some areas inside the massive scoreboard were large enough for a small apartment. And its inner workings were an amazing testimony to modern technology. But the point is, I couldn’t just barge into the stadium and insist on entering the scoreboard. I could see it only by being granted access from the person in charge. It wasn’t that I deserved it – I hadn’t done anything to merit the privilege. I just happened to know the right person who knew the right person who was qualified to provide the desired access.  

Similarly, the only way we could meet a prominent person, whether it be the President of the United States, our favorite actor or actress, a celebrated athlete, or a business magnate like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, would be if we somehow received access to them. We can’t just show up and declare, “Hi, I’m here to see Lebron James” or, “Hello. I need to see Meryl Streep – now.”

The same holds true spiritually. We talk and think casually about prayer, that mystical form of communication with the living God. But have you ever considered what a wonderful, undeserved privilege it is to pray and speak to God – and ask Him to speak to us? How is it we can have instant, continual access to our Lord, the Creator and sustainer of the entire universe?

This time of year, as our annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ draws near, it’s important to remind ourselves that we can have unlimited, 24/7 access to God – but only because of what Jesus has done for us.

Hebrews 4:16 tells us that through Christ, who serves as our high priest, Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Ephesians 2:18 adds, “For through him (Jesus Christ) we have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

Some people speak flippantly about speaking to “the Man Upstairs,” or “the Big Guy.” However, as we contemplate the pristine, pastoral scene of the Babe in a humble manger in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, it wasn’t to pose for pretty Christmas cards that would be designed centuries later. He came to teach, model, be the atoning sacrifice for our sins – and to serve as our divine mediator: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Jesus is the one – the only one – who can provide us access to God. And not only access, but assurance that He will eagerly receive us into His presence. "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything, according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

Unlike with password-protected computers, secured websites, closely guarded companies and top-secret government sites, when we approach God in the name of Jesus Christ, we will never hear, “Access denied!”

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