Andrew Womack, in his book A Better Way To Pray, wrote of a time he had been meditating on Matthew 6:9 Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name and Psalm 100:4
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name. He had a dog named Honey, ¾ German Shepherd and ¼ Chow. This dog looked ferocious and would run to the fence jumping on it when someone would pass by scaring the daylights out of them. This happened so much so that the fence was indented from his behavior. However, this dog was very timid.
Every time this dog came up to me, she’d run until she got about 10 feet away. At that point, she’d stop, roll over, and start whimpering pitifully, and continue scooting up to me on her side. Honey wanted me to pet her but was constantly afraid I might hit her instead. Before he had gotten the dog, the previous owner had beaten her with a chain. On this particular occasion, the dog came up to him demonstrating this same behavior when Andrew had had enough and said, “Honey, one time I wish you would just come up, jump on me, and treat me like a normal dog would. Everybody who sees you thinks I beat you! They believe I’m a mean master. I just get so embarrassed when people observe how you act toward me.” That’s when the Lord spoke to his heart. “Son, that’s exactly the way I feel about you. Just one time I wish you would approach Me saying, ‘Daddy! Father!’ and not talk about how sorry you are or how you know you don’t deserve My goodness and mercy. Just one time I’d like you to come into My presence and act like I love you!”
We’ve been considering how false impressions have crept into our thinking through bad theology and misrepresentations of God’s nature. Andrew’s story hits home. As a parent I would never want my children to approach me in this manner, fearing some painful reprisal. God wants us to know how much he loves us and is cheering us on. Some read the Old Testament and can only see a God that deals with sin and rebellion in a harsh manner. We need the New Testament to guide us through the Old Testament. At the same time, we need the Old to understand the New. They go hand in hand, yet need explanation. That’s where the church comes in. In Acts 8 the Spirit told Philip to go to a chariot and stay near it. Acts 8:30-35 (NIV)
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation, he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
God has given us his Spirit but wants us to grow through relationships. He never intended us to be on our own. It’s easy to take things out of context or reinterpret them through our own experiences. Some misunderstand grace as a license to do whatever they like; that sin doesn’t matter to God. Nothing could be further from the truth. God is not subject to our logical deductive reasoning. He is God. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. While this is true Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV) 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. God wants us to know that we can think like him through the Spirit of Christ. He doesn’t want us to just individually take the ball and run with it according to our own personal prerogatives. He wants us to be part of his body. He wants to demonstrate his love through the church; a body of people that are filled with his Spirit. Romans 8:13-21 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
God wants us to experience life the way he intended it: with him as our Father through our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, and being filled with his precious Holy Spirit. Our Spirit-filled lives are meant to change our environment in every way. Read all of Romans 8 and renew the way you think about how to approach our Heavenly Father. Great things are awaiting our faithful response. Walk in confidence before the Lord, with head held high, enjoying the privilege of being a child of God.