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Boldness or familiarity?
- Jacob Ninan
Understanding the concept of holiness and the severity of punishment for defiling holy things that we find in the Old Testament can help us to value and appreciate the grace that is available to us in the New Testament. Think of the High Priest being able to enter into the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle only once a year, and that too after sacrifices and processes of purification. This can tell us something of the magnitude of God's love for us in giving us free access into His presence at any time. Yet this access is not because we are holier or better people than the high priests but because of the value of the blood of Jesus that was shed to cleanse us from our sins once for all (He.10:19-22). If any man dared to touch the mountain when Moses was with God receiving the commandments he would have been killed (Ex.19:12). Only Moses could go right up to the top of the mountain and talk to God. Now we have been given the right to talk to Him, to let our requests be made known to Him, call Him, "Abba, Father," and know that the Creator of the whole universe and the One who can do whatever He wants has come to our level to have fellowship with us.
The least of God's children can have fellowship with Him (He.8:11). We don't have to cringe before Him in fear, or wonder if He would listen to us. We don't have to seek the mediation of any prophet, pastor, or great man of God to get to our Father. We know that when we talk to Him He listens (1Jn.5:14). We know that each one of us is precious to Him, because Jesus gave His life for us, washed us with His blood and made us acceptable to the Father. We don't have to ask anyone to pray for us fearing that our own prayers may not be heard. This is how God has given us access to His throne and mercy seat.
When we consider what God had to pay in order to grant us this access, we will know that it is no cheap ticket to heaven. We can't just walk in casually before God as if He is our buddy. We can't address Him in cheap terms as if He is our servant who is at our beck and call to run errands for us. We can't even afford to refer to Him in a loose or casual manner (Ex.20:7). We need to remember who we are dealing with, and approach Him with love, gratitude and reverence (1Pe.1:17-19).
As Christians let us beware of the tendency to swing between attitudes of fear and diffidence and familiarity from time to time. God wants us to have a steady sense of boldness coupled with confidence, holy fear and respect. When we are with fear and diffidence, we cannot receive and enjoy what God has for us. We also tend to get depressed, unbelieving, anxious, etc. When we take a familiar attitude towards God we will also take liberties with sin that will affect our relationship not only with God but also with people. There is nothing that can balance us except a constant feeding on the word of God and prayer. Let us also learn to recognise when we go off to either side and to come back to our safe position.