When my boys were younger, we used to have family devotions from a Bible-in-pictures book for children. With that and other story books, we tried to make sure that the illustrations weren’t cartoonish. We wanted them to understand that these stories were different.
As Jesse in particular got older, we developed a bedtime ritual of devotions together. I found some devotional books for children that included a Scripture passage to read and a story that illustrated the biblical principle. We’ve done that for years, but now that he’s 14, I tried to find a devotional book geared toward teen-agers. I was disappointed at most of the fare available at the Christian bookstore for teens, but I came across one book written by a Christian author I respected who had written many great books in the area of apologetics. I knew he was in a “New Evangelical” camp, but I thought he was fairly conservative. especially in his theology. I had never read one of his books through from cover to cover, but I had used them often as reference books. So I felt this would be pretty safe, but I was on alert all the same.
Much of the book is good. But one problem I have with it is that there is an undercurrent of…I don’t know quite what I would call it. Flippancy, maybe? Not toward biblical truth, but towards God Himself. For example, one day’s devotional has the reader imagining himself in a dream with God standing before him in Reeboks and jeans, counting up the blessings He has bestowed on you with a calculator.
Now, I don’t think jeans are evil (Reeboks either, for that matter). If Jesus walked the earth today as He did in the first century, who knows what He would wear. I don’t think He would wear a suit and tie 24/7 and speak in King James English, and He probably would handle things like calculators and computers and such. That is all just speculation and I don’t want to veer too far down that rabbit trail just now.
I know when He did walk the earth He handled carpenter’s tools, held children, touched lepers, prepared a meal on the sea shore, ate, slept, was tired and hungry. I know He became a man, experienced what human beings do, was tempted in all points like as we are.
But I also know that when John, the “beloved disciple,” the one closest to Him of His inner circle, saw Him in his vision in Revelation, there was no back-slapping or hand-shaking or comments like, “Jesus! So good to see You again! It’s been a long time!” He fell at His feet as dead.
When Isaiah saw Him in His glory, his response was “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).
When Joshua saw the captain of the Lord’s host, thought to be an pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, he “fell on his face to the earth, and did worship.”
To be honest, I don’t know quite how to reconcile the intimacy of the heart-cry of the Psalms or of calling God the Father “Abba” (Romans 8:14-16 and Galatians 4:5-7) with being overwhelmed with God’s glory and majesty to the point of falling before Him in worship. In another sense, though, I can say I have experienced something of each of those things, though not at the same time and not to the extent that believers will when we see Him in heaven. All true Christians have the sense of calling out to God as our beloved Father and pouring out out hearts before Him, and if we think very much on God’s majesty and glory and greatness, we can’t help but respond as David did in Psalm 8: “who are we that You even pay attention to us?”
Maybe that’s the problem: we spend more time calling out to Him and asking Him to help us and meet our needs without spending time meditating on Who He is, beholding Him, thinking about His holiness and power and greatness and majesty. We do need to do the former, but we can’t neglect the latter.
God did come down to us in the form of a man, and Jesus is called our friend and our brother, yet I think we need to be cautious about “bringing God down to our level” to the point that we’re overly-familiar and disrespectful and have forgotten Who He really is. We can’t forsake reverence for intimacy: we need both in balance.
Hebrews 12:28: Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.