Yesterday (see parts I and II as well), I gave some advice about how we should go about confronting the sins that beset our churches, so as align with Paul’s statement that there must not be a hint of immorality, impurity, or greed among the Church.
But does this not mean we are going to become legalists? What happens to that natural-feeling love relationship that we have with Jesus? It is still natural, but do not only think of this love relationship in Song of Solomon terms, but in Father-Son terms. Let me allow Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace? to help us out a bit again:
“Consider… a person who wishes to send a message to the President of the United States. Any citizen may write the President, or send a telegram or e-mail message. But even if she traveled to Washington D.C. and stood in line with the tourists at the white House, she would not expect to gain a personal appointment with the President. Though she may speak to a secretary or with her Senator’s help arrange a meeting with a cabinet official, no ordinary citizen expects to e able to barge into the Oval Office and present a petition. Government runs by hierarchy, setting apart its highest officials according to strict protocol. Similarly, in the Old Testament a ladder of hierarchy separated people from their God, this one based not on prestige but on “cleanness” or “holiness”…
Earlier, I drew a parallel of a visitor in the White House. No such visitor, I said, could expect to barge into the Oval Office to see the President without an appointment. There are exceptions. During John F. Kennedy’s administration, photographers sometimes captured a winsome scene. Seated around the President’s desk in gray suits, cabinet members are debating matters of world consequence, such as the Cuban missile crisis. Meanwhile, a toddler, the two-year-old John-John, crawls atop the huge Presidential desk, oblivious to White House protocol and the weighty matters of state. John-John was simply visiting his daddy, and sometimes to his father’s delight he would wander into the Oval Office with nary a knock.
That is the kind of shocking accessibility conveyed in Jesus’ word Abba. God may be the Sovereign Lord of the Universe, but though his Son, God hads made himself as approachable as any doting human father.” (150, 157)
I think Yancey does a marvelous job of bringing out the joy and peace that can be found in God through Christ and His tender love and mercy: the father-son image drawn here is particularly powerful: if this can be true in the presence of a powerful earthly father, how much more is it true about our heavenly father?
There is another aspect to this father-son relationship though. When dad, who knows better, speaks, we listen. That’s it. This does not mean there is not love – or that there is not the aspect of the Husband-bride relationship either. It just means that love sometimes takes very tough forms. He has our best interests in mind – as well as the other children He loves.
It is one of the ways that we get to know God better. He disciplines those He loves.
Part V will be later today…