by Rob Dunne
| The No. 13 Breakfast Room by candlelight. Photograph: Lewis Bush
“Courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum”
But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7
Months of preparation led up to this moment. At various times throughout the night whistles, clanging pots or plain old yelling interrupted sleep. As dawn broke, the brothers placed bananas over our eyes and shoved us in to vehicles. Multiple turns and high speeds confused our whereabouts. Upon reaching our destination, they led us to an upper room. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, questions peppered us.
They saved me for last. They took off my blindfold and my eyes strained adjusting to the candlelit room. Neatly line book shelves surrounded me in what I surmised was a law library. The black judicial robes worn by the brothers made the occasion solemn. I was about to learn secrets established by the founding fathers one hundred years prior. Acceptance into this brotherhood was contingent upon recognizing that its secrets were solemn.
Very little in life remains solemn or sacred. All over the world, people burn our flag. Divorce is rampant. Graffiti mars the sides of otherwise beautiful buildings. Reality television entices us with intimate details about other people’s lives. As a result, we have become numb to the sacred.
God is sacred. Holy. Set apart. He is righteous, morally perfect, pure and without blemish. This definition fails to describe the magnitude of its meaning. It is difficult to understand that a perfect, pure and holy God cannot be in the presence of sin. Holiness and sinfulness are in-apposite.
In the Old Testament, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement for the people’s sin. The Holy of Holies was where the Spirit of God sat above the Ark of the Covenant. It was so scared that the priest would die instantly if he deviated from any of God’s ordinances.
Though I’ve known the Lord for more than thirteen years, I still grapple with His holiness. The issue for me is sin. You cannot see sin. While I have suffered consequences for some of my actions, the impact on my life has been minimal. It is difficult to comprehend that sin separates me from God.
That’s what is so amazing about grace. God’s grace covers my sin. I don’t have sin consciousness. This does not give me carte blanche to commit sin. Rather, God’s grace motivates me to reflect His glory and holiness. The desire to sin no longer exists. Do I walk this out perfectly? Not at all. Through a daily dying to self, I strive to become perfect as He is perfect.
To my relief, I passed the final test for entrance into the brotherhood. Or so I thought. In my delirium, I deviated from something that I was instructed not to do. Suddenly, the pin I so proudly wore for mere moments was ripped from my shirt. Months of hard work went up in flames. It was quite devastating. Fortunately, this was an object lesson in the solemnity of the fraternity’s secrets. What happened next will die with me along with the rest of the secrets I learned that day as I was eventually welcomed in to the brotherhood.
Faith in Jesus gives us something that surpasses anything a fraternal order or social organization can offer. He is the veil through which we enter the very presence of Almighty God. Confessing Jesus and believing that God raised Him from the dead gives us right standing before God. His righteousness clothes us like that fraternal pin. It is what identifies us as children of God. It is sacred.