Under the Judgment of the Board of Medicine
This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. Ephesians 3:11-12
When my drug addiction came to light, I had to report to our State Board of Medical Practice, who has the responsibility to protect the public from impaired physicians. Initially, I was told I couldn’t practice, that I had to go to treatment, and then later, that I had to appear in person before them. I knew it had to happen, but still, as the date approached, I grew increasingly anxious knowing that they would sit in judgment of me. I’d been compliant, jumping through every hoop. But still, they would decide if I could keep practicing, if I was done being a physician, or if I would be publicly punished. Standing before them, I experienced very real fear and trembling.
This, I think, is a little like how the Israelites once approached God. Living after Christ’s sacrificial death, we tend to see God as loving, forgiving, and merciful. It seems however, that those who lived before the time of Christ knew God as terrible and fearful. When they approached him, they jumped through ceremonial hoops to get there and even then, they did so with fear and trembling.
In today’s passage, Paul taught that because of Jesus’ sacrificial death, this was no longer the case. In being eternally forgiven, our relationship with the father has been restored to its intended state and now, like Adam and Eve in the garden, we can freely walk and talk with him. We may live in confident access to the creator of the universe without fear and trembling. To the Jews of Paul’s time, this was a radical, new idea. I think though, that I’ve not always understand what a gift that truly is.
What if, before I even met with the medical board, I knew they’d forgiven me? What if, in being pardoned, I didn’t even bother to show up for that medical board meeting? This, I think is where a lot of us find ourselves. Whereas the Old Testament Israelites stood before God with fear and trembling, we don’t stand before him at all because we’re inoculated by the knowledge that he’s always there for us and so, we just take him for granted.
The message of today’s passage is that we can boldly live in the presence of God. We can know him and we can know his will. This should be an amazing reality that we embrace with our entire being. Daily, we can and should pursue our relationship with God – the most important relationship of our lives.