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Children/Friend of Christ or Slave of Christ?

06/06/2017

The following came from a discussion with a friend.  There seemed to be a misunderstanding/disagreement between us about being a slave of/for Christ, and our freedom in Christ, how He calls us friend and has chosen us to be His Bride.  God tells us to come boldly before the throne of grace and gain help in time of need.  There then was a parallel drawn between how an earthly father would feel if we groveled as a slave before him, which would dishonor him.  Yes, we are to honor God in humility but also be bold in His Presence.  I had some different thoughts about this.

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I think there is a tension between our position/our standing before God and our relationship with Him, which are two completely different things.  If this were a human relationship, I think it might be different, but only by degree.  And I think that’s where we are handicapped by our 21st century thinking.  We don’t know what a king is or how people should act before a king with reverence and awe.  And that includes a benevolent king and his children.  In our standing before God, we are sons, daughters, friends of Jesus.  But we in our relationship with Him, the church today takes that as license and presumption, treating Him like a benevolent grandpa-figure.  What our legal standing is (propitiation), and how we operate day to day are decidedly different.

We take the verse about “boldly come before the throne of grace” and run with filthy feet into the throne room and jump into “daddy’s lap”  (I have heard that phrase, taken from “abba father”).  From my reading of Revelations, I’m not sure that when we see Him face to face, that will be what’s on our minds.  We forget Who has bought us, Who redeemed us, Who paid the horrible price for our sin.  We think that the patience of God towards our sin means He’s soft on sin, when it’s meant for repentance.  I heard this recently in a sermon, referring to a dad’s response to his son’s misbehavior:

“Don’t let my smile distract you from the severity of this situation.”

And so it is with God.  But He has instituted the law of sowing and reaping, and the command where we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  We forget that we are to fear God, a New Testament term, not just OT.

I wrote a 3 part blog on the fear of God in the Bible:

https://apprenticetothecarpenter.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/do-you-fear-god-part-1/

https://apprenticetothecarpenter.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/do-you-fear-god-part-2/

https://apprenticetothecarpenter.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/do-you-fear-god-part-3/

This is desperately missing today in the church, and this leads to license and presumption, probably one of the key problems in the church today.

Some may see this as “groveling” before Him, and yes, this would be hurtful to an earthly father, and rightly so.  But this definitely isn’t the attitude of the church today.  I don’t see a lot of bowing of the heart and life before God. I don’t see the giving up of the sin of pride that “I can make it my own way, thanks for the salvation thing”, which is way more hurtful.  I seem more careless attitudes than humility. We have created Him in our own image (I read recently this described as a Mr. Potato Head God), making Him tolerant of sin (like we are in our own lives).   We presume that He will always be patient towards sin, and that if we get around to fixing the “problem of sin” someday, He’s happy with that.  If we intend to, that’s OK with Him.  It’s the good intentions that count, right?

So we glibly sing on Sunday morning “I surrender all” and be bold face liars.  We sing “I lift up holy hands” when that if farthest from the truth.  Yes, our standing makes that true, but at that moment the song isn’t about our standing but our relationship and what’s happening in our lives now.  We tolerate sin; Jesus is completely incompatible with sin, and does not tolerate it.  He hates it so much and the pain and suffering it causes, He died so we wouldn’t have to receive the consequences for it. Our response is to be love.  Heart rending love, sacrificial love, a thankful soul responding to His great love and sacrifice.  But since He is God, He gets to define what love means.  And it’s not a feeling, but an action.  “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”

Yes, God is all about grace or we would all be sunk.  But we seem to be living here:

Rom. 6:1,2  What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?  May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

With our lips we say that we would never do this in our position before God, He has saved us from sin, cleansed us from all unrighteousness, but in our relationship with Him, we do this very thing.  We define grace as tolerance and turn it into license, presuming that since we didn’t get caught or there were no lasting consequences to that particular sin, no matter how “trivial and inconsequential” the sin was, that God’s all good with that.  Since we “wink at sin”, He must, too, right?

One might say that the Church today is doing a good job with focusing on the grace of God.  I wish this indeed were the case.  But I don’t think even that is happening. For if we truly understood the “dire straits” God saved us out of by His Grace, we would quickly and profoundly humble ourselves before Him.  It would change the church today. But because there has not been any real repentance, with the true understanding of how helpless we were to save ourselves from hell , that we were headed for an eternity there, and only out of God’s Holiness, Love, Grace, and Mercy, He chose to save us for His Bride, we take grace for granted

Because of this, what does the Bride, the Church do?  Prostitutes itself, chasing after other gods of prestige,  popularity,  numbers, buildings, programs, complacency and Christian narcissism (taking the worlds ways into the church and just cleaning them up to call them “Christian”.)  Is this how a Bride is supposed to respond to Her Lover, the One Who died in Her place?  Humility is not a term that can used to describe the Church today. But to me, the Bride would be forever humbled because She, laying dead in the trash heap, hopelessly wallowing in her filth, was rescued out  by the Holy Prince of Peace, Creator of the universe, to be made alive, washed white as snow, and dressed in festive gowns to be forever in love in His Presence.  What gratitude this should generate!  What thankfulness!  What contentment, to know that we have God Almighty to be our Savior and Lord.

I don’t see a lot of the understanding of this today.  And I think it all starts at the beginning at what is left out of the Gospel. We have left out that we were dead in putrid sin and in a desperate dark place.  We skip over the need for repentance and cut to “accept Jesus in your heart, Amen, you’re now a Christian”, when nothing of the sort has happened.  And that has led to many still-unsaved in the church, little understanding of the fear of God, and the Church has little power because of sheep and goats/ wheat and tares, a mixed multitude, something Moses had to deal with every day.

I think one thing that is an issue is we make out our salvation to be between equal parties.  A very rich man paid our debt, and so now we are free.  We even quote a parable to that effect.  But we forget that we have been bought with a terrible price, the Precious Blood of Jesus.  We’ve forgotten where we have come from (if we were even told to start with).  So we live “freely”, taking license for our sin.  We forget we are forever indebted to God.  We forget we are “doulos”, slaves of God.  God never makes the mistake of thinking He is man, but many times we make the opposite blunder.  Yes, positionally we are sons and daughters, but relationally we are blood-bought slaves.  The NT writers used that Greek word “doulos” extensively about themselves.

A benevolent loving owner would not allow his slaves to grovel, but neither would he allow them to be presumptuous; he would still hold them accountable for their actions and there would always be an understanding as to who was who.    He would always require humility, again not a word that can be used to describe the Bride today.  We are still plagued with this cancer of sin, the old man and new man, the Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde syndrome.  And how we react to this, when we become aware of it, depends on whether we can come “boldly before the throne of grace”.    If we come to Him in humility and repentance, then and only then can we come boldly before the throne of Grace  and receive help in time of need.  When was the last time you heard that in a sermon?   When was the last time that sin and repentance and confession of sin in contrition was preached?  I hear sermonettes for Christianettes.  I hear nothing of who we really are, what grace really means, what really happened back there on the Cross, why love, mercy and grace drove Jesus to do what He did.

Sin is a plague in the church today; the Bride has soiled Her garments, a lot of the time intentionally.   And the soap of complacency will not cleanse Her, only smear the dirt around.  May God in His mercy and grace cleanse us again and again and again.  But it only happen when we “confess our sins” which then enables Him to “forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This should keep us humble enough to not take Him for granted, to understand our roles in our position with Him, and then our relationship with Him.

 

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