In recent posts, I've been discussing the importance of confession in our relationships with GOD and fellow Christians.
When discussing our relationship with GOD, one of the aspects that I think doesn't get discussed enough is the balance between reverential respect and close friendship.
I can absolutely see why it may be difficult for us to balance these two feelings—two attitudes, if you will.
On the one hand, the Scripture says:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
(Eccl. 12:13b NIV)
... and on the other hand, the Scripture also says:
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Prov. 18:24 NIV)
So how do we properly balance these two?
I believe that the key is to accurately understand GOD's character.
GOD is all-powerful, so our present and future are in His hands, as our past has been in His hands.
He is our Designer, so He understands perfectly how we were put together, how we think, and what motivates us. Being all-knowing and everywhere-present at the same time, GOD is perfectly equipped to see what we are doing and to know our thoughts so as to understand why we're doing what we're doing.
Because GOD exists outside the confines of time (He is eternal and self-existent, depending upon no external life-giving source), He has already "experienced" all that will ever happen.
GOD is holy and can have no part in sin, nor can sinful beings be in His presence. This is why He demands holiness in order for us to have relationship with Him.
Our problem is that we get our picture of GOD out of focus, which causes us to over-emphasize either fear of GOD or familiarity with Him.
If we focus too long on Scriptures that emphasize GOD's love, mercy and grace, we tend to lose sight of—or begin to minimize the importance of—His demand for holy living and the massive price of sin.
Emphasize GOD's jealousy, wrath, demand for holiness and disdain for sin for too long and we can lose sight of His grace, mercy and love, beginning to adopt a perfect-law-keeping attitude of works.
In my experience, most of our errors in this area come from being led astray by men and not from misunderstanding a private personal study of Scripture.
In other words, our inaccurate view of GOD is often taught.
Thus, the best way to combat spiritual error is by a healthy study of the Scriptures alone.
Close the commentaries.
Temporarily shut off the external input sources—even this one.
As a whole, the Bible isn't difficult to understand.
GOD wrote the Scriptures so that simple-minded people like me can get it.
Let me close with a few points about these two subjects of reverence and friendship:
- GOD is not our peer. He isn't our "man upstairs" or our co-pilot or any other similar description. GOD is so much greater and bigger than these belittling descriptions. I believe terms like this contribute to a smaller view of Jehovah.
- GOD is not watching vengefully just waiting for us to mess up so He can strike us dead. He loves you; He's calling you to Himself; and if you are His, He's working your life events out for your good. The fact that He's always with you and that He knows and sees all should be a great comfort to you, unless you are His enemy. He's your loving Father, not an overbearing task-master.
- The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). The Bible speaks a lot about the importance of fearing the LORD. GOD wants us to be fearful of who He is, as it pertains to His greatness and our smallness.
He wants us to tremble at the idea of His wrath. This is good for us because it keeps us from going far from Him into sin.
However, He doesn't want us to stop here. GOD gives us many reasons why we shouldn't just fear Him, but also love Him. He wants us to fear Him, but not be afraid of Him or His presence. He wants us to welcome Him and His presence in our lives.
- It is possible for us to lose our fear of GOD. This is very dangerous, and can often be a result of pride. Pride is a cancer that we must always guard our hearts against.
- Life is full of ebbs and flows, and this is no different. We can find ourselves getting out of balance with regard to our view of GOD, our reverential attitude or minimizing His desire to be our friend. GOD knows this, because we are weak and imperfect.
So ask Him for help. Ask Him to keep you in balance and help you see when you've got an inaccurate or out-of-focus view of His character. After all, the Great Physician applies to spiritual optometry as well.