Friends of a High and Holy God
I was interviewed last week by a professor from Duke on the subject of “contemporary worship.” In the course of our conversation, he used the phrase “Lovin’ on Jesus” to describe the prevailing movement of the last 50 years influencing many of our present day worship patterns.
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that I am unashamed and even proud to be associated with any movement characterized by love of Jesus!!! Where do I pick up my t-shirt and bumper sticker?!
That said, the phrase came to mind this morning as I read Exodus 19, and I wondered if I sometimes lose sight of the holiness of God in the comfortable, familiarity of Jesus. Do you know what I mean? I love that Jesus called us friends (John 15:15) and I believe He meant it. Only, am I still recognizing that He is God and I am not? In Exodus 19, the people had to prepare themselves for several days before just coming close (not even touching!) the mountain where God was.
It’s a conversation we’re having more and more in our house as our boys get older. You know, the “we’re your parents, not your friends” lecture, er, I mean, conversation. I want my boys to trust me completely. I want them to feel comfortable and know there is nothing they can’t tell me and nothing they can do that will change my love for them. I want them to come to me for comfort – to know that I will listen to them, hurt with them, hope for them. But I also want them to respond immediately when I say “stop” or “no.” I want them to know I will draw clear boundaries that I expect them to adhere to whether they understand them or not because I am their parent. I love that we’re raising our boys in the South where kids are taught to refer to adults, including their parents, as “ma’am” and “sir.” It’s a sign of respect, and it’s warranted.
Does the name of God fall too easily from our lips? Do we picture Him as high and exalted, almighty and seated on a throne of righteousness when we pray? Or, is He the one we yell at/to in moments of distress? Remember how Jesus (you know, our friend) was trying to help us out on the subject of prayer and He said to start by saying, “Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name.”
The holiness of God is huge in the Old Testament. There was a clear understanding that to look on the face of God meant death because He is holy and we are not. When God passed by Moses, Moses had to turn his back so he didn’t turn into dust. And when he came down from the mountain his face was so bright from his encounter with God that he had to wear a veil so the Israelites could look at him. Second-hand God glimpsing was far more lethal than second-hand smoke. Maybe a bad metaphor, but God was into the whole smoking-mountain deal. I digress…
Thing is, while many things changed in the New Testament, the holiness of God never has. So, how do we embrace the relationship available to us through Jesus without disregarding the holiness of God?
What do you think? Do you struggle more with seeing God as holy or seeing God as a friend?