December 17, 2009

Dec. 17: Is it possible to let God down?

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By Andrea Kraybill, a junior art major from Elkhart, Ind.
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 10:5-10 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:
Words have different interpretations depending on who is saying them and who is listening. Some go out of fashion, yet remain remnants of the past in our ears: twain, verily or prithee. As I read Hebrews, I am struck by the images that sacrifice conjures. I talk about making sacrifices of time or money, but here I see a more visceral image of sacrifice.

A market bustles as people barter over which animals they can afford to buy. Bleating and writhing, the animals embody the sins of each person. The worshipper is heavy with a sense of guilt. The animal is prepared and laid on the altar. A swift cut. A sung prayer. Blood drips for sins, and rightness with God is achieved.

A modern, Western interpretation of sacrifice doesn’t often look like this. Yet it is tempting to become a perfectionist in faith. Christ’s words release me from this burden: “sacrifices and offerings you have not desired.” The responsible voice inside me says that I must figure out how to right all my wrongs. If I pray harder, memorize more Scripture or volunteer more hours at the soup kitchen can I earn God’s delight?

I asked my spiritual director: Is it possible to let God down? I often fail in my relationships to others, and subsequently, to God. With what I saw were eyes of the loving Divine, she told me, “nothing you do can separate you from God’s love.” God doesn’t desire perfection, but obedience. Christ abolished the need for the Old Testament sacrifices and through his obedience, suffering for our sins. This fills me with awe – that I don’t have to live in constant guilt, but am loved by God.

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SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 10:5-10 (NRSV)

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’
When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

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Comments (11)

  1. Today I practiced Lectio Divina with this verse. The word “offering” came to me, as I meditated on the scripture. The emotion dod not dcome to me upon the second reading, but upon the third, when the message that came to me was that we are the offerings, to make my life an offering to God. THen the “feeling” came; of being burnt clean; cleansed, purfied, by GOd’s will traveling through me. TO become a new form of burnt offering; that is God’s will.

    Beth December 17, 2009 |
  2. A sweet devotion. Thank you.

    Will Fitzgerald December 17, 2009 |
  3. A bright spot in my day. The wonder of it all. So many don’t really understand this sense of “non-guilt” that our advent Savior brings. Thanks Andrea. Have a good season.

    Mom Johnson of Arienne December 17, 2009 |
  4. You are a good thinker and writer. Thanks for inspiring me today!
    MKM

    Mary K. Mishler December 17, 2009 |
  5. You cannot let down or disappoint God. First we are fully acceptable to him (Romans 15: 7). Secondly, in order to disappoint, there must be unmet expectations. God knows all from begining to end and therefore is never surprised by what we did. God asked Adam: “where are you?’ Was that a geographical question? No, it was a question for Adam to see where he was in his heart. Knowing I cannot disappoint God, how does that change my “in look”? It changes my heart and excites me to seek Him more and be more like Him knowing I will fail. An when I fail, love Him for loving me!

    Dan Bogdan December 17, 2009 |
  6. Andrea…
    The words of your devotional today were impactual…and a powerful reminder to me that God’s grace only requires acceptance and a heart set on obedience. While Christmas ‘bustlings’ tend to remind of us of what we *cannot* do, your devotional reminded me of what we *must* do. Thank you for sharing.

    DeeDee Barnes Bruns December 17, 2009 |
  7. Your market description reminds me of “sultry” summer African days. Good words, Andi. I’ll second that “Mom Johnson” comment up there… ;)

    Arienne Johnson December 17, 2009 |
  8. Wonderful devotion with lots to think about and inspire. It’s easy to get caught in the “perfection for my Lord” trap and then not committ because I can’t do this justice….thanks again

    JoAnn Barbour December 17, 2009 |
  9. Thank you for this devotion – it is something I need to be reminded of…

    Eric Benson December 17, 2009 |
  10. Thanks for the devotional. How wonderful to not only realise that we offfer ourselves, yes, and that just the offerring/surrendering means CHRIST becomes my perfection. Then I have no guilt, shame, worries, only the joy of sanctification.

    Jo Mick December 20, 2009 |
  11. The question is, if you know the decision you want to make will displease God and you continue to make it…how does God see it? Sure God shows grace and acceptance and will never refuse to love us. But?

    Jennifer February 16, 2010 |