Yesterday we talked about your attitude toward God when you pray – not so much what to pray, but how. We talked of Him being the King of Kings, the Creator of the universe and all that is in it (including us), and basically said that we should address Him with proper respect and deference, just as you would if you were to meet with an earthly king or other important person. Instead, many of us talk to Him as though He was simply another person like a friend or coworker. When we do this, in our hearts and minds, we tend to bring Him down to our level. Why?
I can think of 2 reasons. First, if we are on equal planes, I don’t have to be intimidated by Him. When I was a firefighter, I never felt threatened by other firefighters. When I became a Lieutenant, I no longer needed to fear what other Lieutenants could do, and so on. I had the same rights and power as the others. Let’s face it, God can be pretty intimidating – especially that angry, vengeful God of the Old Testament, right? Second, we’re told that our relationship with Him must be deeply personal. How can you be that close to someone who has complete power over you – someone who you may not even be able to call by their first name? So we should be intimate but formal, submissive but strong. This can create problems. When the lines get blurry, we don’t tend to elevate God. In fact, just the opposite. We tend to view Him as not much more important than we ourselves, and in so doing we give ourselves leave to do as we wish, rather than seek God’s will and obey Him. Confusing?
It can be, unless you view your relationship with God in the right context. Instead of using the relationship model of a couple of ‘buddies’, or a supervisor/underling model, try it in the context of the example God Himself gave us in scripture. The model of a family.
In a family, we should be intimate, but not necessarily equal. The Bible is clear as a bell that a child (even a grown one) should always honor his parents. Exodus 20:12 gives us the first commandment that actually has a promise attached to it: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
We could probably do at least a week on the single word ‘honor’, but I’ll spare you that – for now. There are at least 45 passages in scripture about honoring your parents. There is about the same number that refer to God as our Father. It makes sense to me that God gave us His model of a family so that we can better understand the relationship we are to have with Him.
Can you have a close, intimate relationship with a parent or grandparent while keeping your communication with them respectful, recognizing their biblical authority over you, your biblical responsibility to them? In other words, not talking to your folks the way you talk to your friends. Whether you say father & mother, mom & dad, papa & mama, ma & pa, there is (or should be) a family structure that binds us together while still giving us lines and boundaries.
Pray about that relationship today. Pretend that God is a VIP, and you just met Him for the first time. You’re going to be spending a LOT of time together. How about asking Him what He would like you to call Him. He is Who He is. We can’t change that.What we can change is our relationship with Him.