Desire Over Obligation

I have a bible app on my smart phone as most Christians probably do and I get daily versus that will pop up during the day.

Today was no different than any other day other than the fact of the scripture that popped up.  Normally, I read the scriptures and I might meditate on them for a short while, but today’s scripture caught my eye especially.

I have been learning how to listen to Holy Spirit more deeply, how God speaks to us in ways that are outside normal perceived channels of communication but have much meaning.

I have learned and continue to learn that God speaks to us in a variety of ways.  Jesus taught in parables and stories.  Often times God will speak to us through repetition.  It may be a repetition of a word, a color, a number or even a line of thinking.

This scripture fell right in line with a line of thinking that God has been dealing with me on for several months.

To summarize, I think we as Christians often miss out on relational experiences because we attribute so much of who God is to only one characteristic of His overall personality; Almighty Sovereign God.

In no way do I mean to diminish His glory or the awesomeness of God.  We should have a reverential respect of our Father in heaven and even for Jesus as the risen Messiah but we cannot simply leave the personality of God as being one dimensional.

I think for many Christians including myself, we have a tendency to see this primarily as the scope of who God is and perhaps hidden fear has kept us from really finding out Who God is and what He is like.

It has occurred to me of late however, I wonder if God ever gets tired of our tiptoeing around and going through tradition and pomp and circumstance? As if we respect or even love God through what we have been taught as “reverential fear or respect” of God, but never even have a moment of connection that is equivalent to that of a son and father, a best friend or even a close buddy?

I know some people will probably shy away from my views as borderline “sacrilegious” regarding the perceived “casual” nature of my suggested interactions with God, but what kind of relationship did God have with Abraham?

God called Abraham His friend, He sat with Abraham, ate with him and He cut covenant with Abraham.  There is no more intimate relationship than that.

Intimacy is a funny thing because it opens up a familiarity that “acquaintances” in our social circles don’t necessarily share with us.  For instance, with my wife or my best friend, I can be vulnerable without judgement.  I can share an inside joke that is only known and funny to us.  If our relationships with people are a mirror of what relationship with God is about, why wouldn’t He also enjoy these things and those dynamics of relationship as well?

Is God not interested in our dreams? Our fantasies, our imaginations?  Is He not interested in the small everyday common things that affect us or are in our hearts and thought lives?  Of course He is!

The bible tells us that the very hairs on our heads are numbered.  If God is willing to go into that kind of detail over our physical outside, just imagine how on the edge of His throne He is about our hearts and minds, even the things that other people don’t have time for!

So, to bring this together, the idea that God has been hitting me with for some time is the idea of family and friendship instead of being a servant.  To really begin to see God’s heart and mind about me and our relationship.

The relational dynamics conversely between friend and servant are different in so many ways that I can’t list them all here but one I want to mention primarily is motivation.  A servant’s motivation to please is one of obligation.  Servants feel they have to do this or that to please God so that God won’t be angry or He will see them favorably.  Their focus is one of working and appeasement.  Family and intimate friend’s motivation to please is one of desire.  I take joy in seeing my wife smile and laugh when I joke with her and seeing her eyes light up when I tell her how beautiful she looks.  She benefits from my desire to please and I benefit from the joy of seeing her happy.  It is the same with God.

I cannot help but see the truth of this in my relationship with God the more He reveals about Himself to me.

So you are probably wondering what scripture could have possibly spurned me to finally write a blog post about these things God has been showing me.

Look no Further:

Isaiah 29: 13

13 And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning],

It is apparent to me that God is addressing the issue of religious tradition and dogmatic practices that mean nothing to the observer.  Even those things that are observed as “reverential”, “fearful” or “respectful” they are nothing more than rote memorization of practices taught out of obligation and by commandment of men, being practiced in vain repetition.

We can know all the right phrases to say, we can speak all the “church speak” we want, interjecting “amen’s” and “hallelujahs” in all the right places.  We can go to all the church services, we can attend every Sunday school class.  We can even observe all the right behaviors and ordinances but without that deep connection of loving intimacy, friendship, and honor and respect based in our hearts AND from our lips, we can never fully give God what He is due or receive from Him what He wants to give us in terms of our relationship with Him.

God wants family who are also friends.  God has always recognized His prophets as His friends because He tells His friends the secrets of His heart.  Abraham was called a prophet and God’s friend and we being children of Abraham and sharing in his inheritance are in the same sense prophets and friends of God.  Even more, we are His family and He wants nothing more than to share the depths of love and goodness He has in His heart for us.

God does not want cookie cutter religious automatons, He wants children with His nature and a free will to know their identity; one that is unique, special and full of His spirit.  God is not looking for groveling slaves, He is looking for family who will share their hearts and minds with Him and make decisions based on His character and DNA that resides in us.  He is looking for people that can have a unique and individual relationship with him and an identity found in Him alone for the purpose of ruling and reigning.

We need to tear down our small mindedness and ways of thinking and embrace the mind of Christ, seeing ourselves as God sees us and bringing our hearts and minds boldly and fully into His presence.

We will honor Him because of our desire to not because we are obligated to.

 

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