I remember the first time I was told I had NO ACCESS and the shame and disappointment I felt in being excluded. For a kid, it meant hating the lunch period because I didn’t have anything to eat. For us, money and food always seem to run out at the same time, before the end of the month. I can remember being told to leave a store if I didn’t have any money. I can remember having the utilities turned off because the bill was unpaid. No lights, no water, no heat; I know what it’s like when access is denied.
I was worshipping in church this morning and as I stood there thanking Jesus for taking my place, I began to see Him walking towards Golgotha, for me. He endured the beating, the mocking of those who watched and He endured the weight of that heavy cross; for me. Without realizing what I was doing, I began pounding on my chest, crying that Christ suffered for me.
Now I’ve always seen myself as a tough guy, I took pride that I grew up in the toughest part of Chicago; the West Side. Back in his day, Al Capone lived on the West Side; so there is that gangster history and mentality. Now I’m no gangster, but I understand the philosophy behind the use of the word as a verb. By that I mean I’ve had to gangster certain situations; to get my way. On the West Side, male punks are frowned upon, so we have this whole macho mentality thing going on.
Here I stood, a former citizen of Chicago, native West Sider, and a fully grown man. My grandmother used to have a saying, “I ain’t no play toy!” I’ve been shot at and to my regret as a young man (while in a gang), I've shot at other young men; I know what it must’ve been like for the Earp’s and the Clanton’s at O.K. Corral. And here I was, standing there crying uncontrollably; just bawling.
Thoughts of, What will people think of you crying? You’re gonna look like some kind of punk!
It didn’t matter. I didn’t even know who was around me or if anyone was watching because I was worshiping Christ. He took my place; willingly took my punishment!
That ain’t no punk!
That’s as tough as you can get. Christ willingly stepped in and took a bullet for me. As they say in the military, “He fell on my sword.”
So yeah, I was crying like a baby, because of what Jesus did for me.
You ever get like that while you’re worshipping the Lord?
People and sounds just seem to fade out of your thoughts and it’s just you and Jesus. I’m not saying, “You gotta cry like a baby to truly worship Christ.” What I’m saying is that peripheral thoughts get muted and you’re alone in that place where in the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter; the Holy of Holies.
But Jesus gave me access and now I am the recipient of a much better covenant than the one given to Moses and Israel. It’s the very reason why the writer of Hebrews declares:
“So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.”1
I realize that like the Jews of the Old Testament, I was fearful to get too close; preferring instead for someone else to enter into that place.
What I didn’t realize was that they were going in for themselves and not for me; I had to enter that place myself if I was ever going to really worship.
I had to offer up a sacrifice of praise to God; for me.
I had to offer up thanksgiving to God; for me.
But I don’t have to offer up atonement to God; Christ already did that, for me.
I know there might be some guys out there reading this post and you’re thinking you can handle yourself in a pinch; you’re not gonna be a pushover for anybody. Perhaps some of you women have tasted the sting of a male who has this image of a tough guy seared on his brain. You escaped him and you’ve decided that, you ain’t nobody’s play toy anymore. But like me, you’ve been letting someone else go into that place, thinking, I don’t need to go there.
But that’s where you’re wrong!
You need to walk in there, into the Holy of Holies and let it just be you and Jesus; so you can worship Him.
If you’ve never really experienced real worship, you won’t know what I’m talking about, but those of you who have, Know the freedom and joy that comes from worshipping Jesus Christ.
Aretha Franklin sang about a spirit in the dark but Jesus says,
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”2
So we sing as we worship Jesus Christ, who declares,
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one come to the Father but through me.”3
“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of light.”4
Worshipping Christ illuminates my perspective; it gives me insight into my access to God. Without worshipping, I’m just in the dark…waiting for God to move in my life.
Praise God! I don’t have to wait anymore!
I’ve got access.
How about you? Do you have ACCESS?
Our Father in heaven,
I thank you that through Jesus, we have been given access to that most sacred and holy place. We can experience the joy of your presence and offer up true worship. No longer will I think it’s acceptable to remain on the outside. I will never come before Your throne while standing on the outside, assured that my pride remains intact. Take my pride Lord Jesus. It’s worth nothing but you can have it. Take my ego and my macho, tough guy attitude and nail it to the cross You hung on for me. I just want to stay in here and worship with You for as long as I can. Thank You Jesus that I have access. I praise Your Holy Name, the name of Jesus Christ. You are my Rock of Salvation, my Redeemer and Lord. I’ve got purpose now Lord Jesus and worshipping You is a big part of my purpose and priority.
- The Layman's Parallel New Testament, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6