Monday, January 28, 2019

Approaching God

When teaching Sunday School recently, part of the lesson on Exodus 3:11-15 asked a question about how we approach God. The curriculum question was written in such a way that the “right answer” was that we should “never” approach God lightly.

Viewing my relationship with God differently, I instead asked, “Is it ever appropriate to come before God lightly?” Technically that's a closed question, but its nature is still one to open up discussion, and it did.

Perhaps another word for “lightly” as we were using it in this context would be informally.

We looked at John 15:15 where Jesus calls us friends. Heaviness or distance is usually not a defining or dominant characteristic of a friendship. Someone reminded us about how Abraham “was called the friend of God” (James 2:23).

One Scripture that could be cited as an example of formality, Moses and the burning bush, may actually be about getting closer to holiness instead of staying away.

Jesus told us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). We may not come light, but the goal is to have a light load.

Another Scripture teaches us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Perhaps to the curriculum authors' point, this is not an example of approaching God lightly, but neither is it an example of coming to God as if the coming itself is a heavy burden to bear.

One of the reasons for coming boldly before the throne is because we understand God has both goodness and severity. While believers enjoy the goodness of God, we know nonbelievers who have no fear of God will face the severity of God. This motivates our efforts toward evangelism.

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