January 15

Qualifications for Closeness

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.
PSALM 24:3-5

Sincere worshippers of God long to be close to Christ. This is our eternal end game. This is the outcome we crave. Closeness to Christ places us in proximity for Him to wipe away our tears. Closeness to Christ reveals our sin and leads us to repentance. Closeness to Christ instills the best perspective, calming our heart and engaging our mind. The holy hill of the Lord is ascended by steps of repentance. Purity brings us closer to Jesus.
Closeness comes from cleanliness. We came from the dirt. We started out unclean. Dirt in our heart throws dust in our eyes. We struggle to see God when we haven’t cleansed our heart. The pure in heart see God. But the impure of heart are like blind bats fluttering around in futility. We are from the dirt in the valley, while He is high atop His holy mountain. The snowcapped mountain of God is pure and clean. We ask the Holy Spirit to clean us up so we can make the ascent.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

So we approach the holy hill of the Lord with clean hands and pure heart. We pursue both an outward and inward purification. Both our behavior and our beliefs need sanitizing. Closeness to Christ comes when we align both actions and attitude. We wouldn’t expect a server to bring our meal with soiled hands. Nor are we to serve our Lord with the dirt of denial under our fingernails.
God trusts those whom He holds close. He trusts them because they’re nearby to hear His instruction and obey His command. They’re hungry for His heart and thirsty for His trust. Closeness continually communes. It’s not like the adult child who comes home only when something’s needed. There’s intentionality in intimacy. God blesses those who are close by. Stay cleansed and close to Christ!

“The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
How is the Spirit purging my heart and moving me toward purity? What does it mean to have a good conscience?

Related Readings
Psalm 51:10; Proverbs 22:11; 2 Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 10:22

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.