Last year I remember seeing a woman on TV admitting to Police officers that she had stabbed her husband to death. This was, she alleged, the result of a long history of abuse at his hands, and she just couldn't take any more. Such a sad scenario... but it did get me wondering if I'd consider God hard to live with. Actually this is quite an important question for Christians to ask. Why? Well, because the kind of relationship we have with Him will largely depend upon the concept we have of Him. For a start, the old hymn reminds us...
'O come to the Father through Jesus the Son.'
...and of course this is theologically correct because the Lord Jesus tells us...
'I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the
Father except through me.'
But the great discovery we make is that becoming a follower of Jesus is far more than simply accepting a set of theological beliefs and code of ethical practice. It's entering into a personal, spiritual relationship with Almighty God. In fact, C.S. Lewis says...
'The difference between theological knowledge and spiritual experience is the difference between knowing God by hearsay and knowing Him by acquaintance.'
But what is He actually like to live with? Well, in trying to answer this question it seems to me that we need to keep 2 important facts in balance and that these should bookend our day-to-day relationship with Him. So, I need to remind myself of the following truths...
FACT 1 – A LOVING FATHER
In becoming a true Christian, through repentance and faith, our sins are forgiven, we're made a child of God, adopted into His family... with Him, our ever-loving heavenly Father. And He loves us not for what we are, but in spite of what we are! This is because He IS pure love... abounding in understanding, mercy and compassion. He's our ever-present help in times of trouble. He'll lead us and guide us and will never leave us or forsake us.
FACT 2 – A CONSUMING FIRE
But although He's my closest Friend, He's not my pal! He is God Almighty, 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords'... all knowing and all powerful. And although He's a God of love, He's also a God of justice and will not tolerate sin in any form. He is pure holiness personified, truly awesome and majestic, and the very future of the world in which we live will one day be brought to an end at His bidding.
The danger is however that we can easily get these 2 fundamental truths out of balance.
For example, on the one hand we can consider Him to be such a benign, and tolerant grandfather-figure that we fail to ascribe to Him the reverence and honour that His majesty is rightfully due. Our worship can be half-hearted and shallow, our moral conduct casual and careless... fertile ground for the evil one to lure us into a lifestyle with a foot in both camps and an outlook capable of producing only colourless, lukewarm, spiritual mediocrity.
But we can also swing too far the other way. We can see Him as a stern schoolmaster who never seems pleased with even our best efforts to honour and glorify Him by our worship, discipleship and service . Our Christian life can be glum, unremitting cross-carrying under the ever-critical eye of the One who expects much and excuses so little.
Yet in reliance upon the power and control of the Holy Spirit we'll avoid both extremes. A balance will then be kept between them so that we can know true and lasting fulfilment... a life full of meaning, purpose and direction. In this way we can surely know Him and 'enjoy Him forever'. This is the life He's wanted for us... even before the beginning of time!