Prayer in its True Light

“If the praying of Pharisees was hypocritical and that of pagans mechanical, then the praying of Christian must be real – sincere as opposed to hypocritical, thoughtful as opposed to mechanical.  Jesus intends our minds and hearts to be involved in what we are saying.  Then prayer is seen in its true light – not as a meaningless repetition of words, nor as a means to our own glorification, but as a true communion with our heavenly Father.”

John Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John Stott

RTBY Day 11 – Genesis 25: Despising Significance For a Path of Least Resistance

Today’s reading in Genesis 25-26 covered the account of the birth of Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  I knew this story.  There wasn’t anything that shockingly new today.

Other than I wondered what would have happened had Esau not given up his birthright?

He had a choice. And he chose to give it up for a bowl of soup.

That’s it.

The firstborn son.  Who would have inherited all the privileges and responsibilities of being the families patriarch gives it up because he is hungry.

Sure, Jacob exploits the situation for his own advantage. But he takes something that was significant from someone else who was despising it.

Esau didn’t just give up a share of an inheritance.  Esau didn’t just abdicate his responsibility to his family.

He gave up his place in being part of what God was doing in and through his family.

He was turning his back on being part of the divine answer to the human problem.

He was giving up being part of the blessed people who in turn seek to be a blessing to others.

Esau despised the significance of his birthright for the simple path of least resistance.

For Further Thought:

1. What was an example of you choosing one thing at the expense of another thing?  How did you feel about the choice afterwards?

2. Do you ever consider the full consequences of some of your decisions?  That a simple choice for this thing over here means a giving up of this thing over there?

3. Abraham’s family was “blessed to be a blessing.”  As Christians, we find ourselves with the same calling, as Jesus Christ came as the true child of Abraham.  What are some of the ways we (collectively) and you (individually) abdicate our responsibility – our birthright – of being a people “blessed” by God in order to “be a blessing to others”?

RTBY Day 10 – Genesis 23-24 and Being a Faithful Presence

[Caveat: I skipped yesterday’s reading and reflection due to illness (and I just didn’t feel like being on a computer). The readings are worth it, but I will be skipping the reflection for yesterday.]

As I read Genesis 23-24 today, I was struck by Abraham’s insistence on finding a wife for his son. The fact of a search was not that surprising. I think every dad hopes his son(s) find a wonderful wife.

No, what struck me was where the wife was to be found.

Not among the Canaanites – where Abraham and Isaac currently lived – but among Abraham’s previous home country.

This is surprising because Canaan was the land God promised to give Abraham. He was there. He was in it. In a way, Abraham was living the dream (or at least, within the boarders of the dream).

But notice Abraham’s dialogue with the Hittites.

“And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” – Genesis 23:3-4 (ESV)

Abraham asks for permission to buy a burial plot for his wife Sarah. The land is his by divine promise, but he doesn’t see fit to exploit that for his own advantage.

But what’s even more surprising is the response of the Hittites.

The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” – Genesis 23:5-6 (ESV)

The Hittites had no problem with Abraham’s request for a burial plot. In fact, they wanted to give him the choicest of plots, and at no cost to him.

Finally through some back and forth reverse-negotiating, Abraham is able to buy the land for some pieces of silver.

This is some of what I think it means to be a faithful presence. It means living in such a way that the people around you can’t help but want you to be there.

It means being the kind of neighbor that others have no problem being there for, even if they don’t believe the same things you do, or live the same way you do.

It means seeking to live appropriately among your neighbors, without also taking on the things they believe, or live the way they live, that are antithetical to your beliefs and life-style convictions.

It means still seeking to honor and respect your neighbors, even when you don’t agree with them.

It means seeking what is best for all, instead of exploiting others for your own advantage.

All of this was done while Abraham was living in the promised land.

Kind of makes me think that Abraham was still looking for a better promised land (cf. Hebrews 11:8-15, see note below).

For Further Thought:
1. Do you think it was odd that Abraham went looking for a wife for Isaac from the land he had left, obeying God’s promises? Why or why not?

2. Was there an aspect of Abraham’s dealing with the Hittites that you thought was odd? Can you imagine yourself passing up free real estate? Why do you think Abraham did so?

From ESV Study Bible:

Gen. 23:4 a sojourner and foreigner among you. Abraham’s description of himself emphasizes his immigrant status. Even after 62 years of seminomadic existence in Canaan, Abraham has no permanent location to call his own. This is all the more noteworthy in light of God’s repeated promises to Abraham that his descendants will possess all the land of Canaan. The author of Hebrews develops the idea that Abraham chose to go on living in tents because he was looking for a city “whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:9–10).

Gen. 24:2–6 Abraham is deeply concerned that Isaac should not marry a Canaanite; he fears that this will draw him away from worshiping the Lord. From ch. 9 onward, the Canaanites are frequently portrayed as being wicked (see notes on 9:24–27; 10:6–20; 13:11–13). Abraham entrusts the important task of finding a wife for Isaac to his most reliable servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had (24:2). To place his servant under oath, Abraham instructs him to put your hand under my thigh (v. 2). On the significance of this action, see note on v. 9. In spite of having left Haran in northern Mesopotamia almost a hundred years earlier, Abraham refers to it as my country (v. 4). He hopes that a wife may be found for Isaac from among his relatives there. Although Abraham insists that Isaac’s wife should come from his kindred in Mesopotamia (v. 4), he emphasizes that Isaac himself should not return there (v. 6). Isaac’s future is to be in Canaan, for God has promised this land to Abraham’s descendants. Later, Abraham’s grandson Jacob will get wives from the same region (29:1–28).

RTBY Day 8: Genesis 18-19, Being Shields while Being Shielded (pt 2)

I have been captivated by the recent story of Muslims standing as guards with the persecuted Coptic church in Egypt, so the idea of “human shields” is playing on constant rotation in my brain.

It also seems to be a theme re-occuring in these passages of the OT pertaining to Abraham.

In this section, God has in mind to judge and destroy two cities that are known for their pronounced wickedness.

These aren’t just tame and disagreeable cities.

Two men walk into town and all the other men want to rape them in the town square. Even Abraham’s cousin, Lot, who seems to have found some favor in God’s eyes, instead offer up his two daughters to the mob amassed at his house, thinking that was a more agreeable alternative. (I don’t quite understand that, but I can’t fully comprehend everything either, so I’m ok with some ambiguity).

So it would seem right that just as evil had spread and continued to get worse when God intervened, that He would probably do so again.

But this time, Abraham steps up into the center of it all and asks:

Then Abraham drew near and said,

“Will the God of the universe really destroy the righteous with the wicked?” – Genesis 18:23 (ESV)

“Will you reallly?”

The answer is “No!” (with a verbal exclamation mark)

But the question that doesn’t get asked is, “Is there really anyone righteous?”

This question will get asked, eventually (see the book of Romans for this). But for now, it is unasked, but the silence is deafening.

We know the answer is no. So the angels go about their way, into the city. They will judge it and destroy it…

…just, in the morning.

And in the meantime, they will got to Lot and his household, and exhort them to persuade others to leave the city with them.

None do.

Even his own household has a hard time leaving behind the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. One of them pays for this (Lot’s wife).

But just because it is a disappointing ending does not mean that we can’t glory in the fact that Abraham lived up to his calling.

He was tasked with being a blessing to the nations. This included Sodom and Gomorrah. And he stood in the way, between God and those cities, on behalf of a people who didn’t even deserve it.

Because that’s what Abraham knew he was to do.

He was to be a shield for others, because he was being shielded by another.

For Further Thought:
1. Is it ever right for God to judge and condemn others? If so, it ever right for you to do so?

2. If you answered “No” to question #1, why did you answer that way?

3. Does the episode involving the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah offer any hint, or trace, of mercy? Where?

RTBY Day 7: Genesis 16, Coexistence and Being Shields While Being Shielded

Coexist.

That’s what Bono wore on a headband at the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb tour a few years ago. He would also recite a mantra during one of the songs in the set list: “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed, all true.”

I wonder what you think of that?

I wonder how many of you would have a problem with Bono’s statement. Part of me does.

I don’t have a problem acknowledging that all three are real, that they exist.

I also don’t have a problem acknowledging that all three are important, that they should be honored and protected, as opposed to degraded and targeted.

These are the ways Bono meant the above mentioned statement. And I believe Bono was being completely biblical in his statement if he did mean it in those two ways.

Genesis 16-17 tells us about the birth of Ishmael, who would one day become the patriarch of the Islamic faith. And yet, this is really a story about someone greater than Ishmael.

Or Isaac for that matter.

Its a story about the God who sees.

A story about the God who in His mercy intervenes, and puts himself in harms way, between one person and another.

It is also true that while God sees and intervenes in the affairs of life of all kinds of people, He does only establish His covenant with Isaac.

This has more to do with which child comes about through faith in the promises of God (Isaac), as opposed to human impatience and strategic maneuvering (Ishmael).

But while it is true that ultimately God promises to fulfill all of His promises only through the one child (Isaac), that in no way is meant to put down, disregard, or eliminate the other child (Ishmael). Just because the Bible says that ultimate salvation comes through the one and not the other, that does not mean that we should not respect and seek to love the other well.

He is still after all a child of Abraham. And God sees and intervenes on behalf of all his children.

For Further Thought:

No questions today. But it would be worthwhile to read this article about Egyptian Muslims standing in solidarity with persecuted Coptic Christians, and serving as “human shields” from militant Islamic extremists.

Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas Mass, Serving as Human Shields.” – Ahram online

RTBY Day 6 – Genesis 15 and An Infatuation with the Little, Yet Significant, Things

One has to love Abraham. He’s an anomaly.

One minute he’s faithfully embarking on a journey that uproots him and his family, the next minute he’s lying to Pharaoh about the nature of his relationship with his wife so no harm will fall upon him.

When I said “love”, I did not say “like”. Some of his behavior is purely despicable. But you have to love a guy you can’t quite figure out.

Take the episode in Genesis 14, where upon the defeat of several marauding kings, the ally kings of Sodom and Gomorrah want to honor Abraham with wealth – fruits of the spoil.

But Abraham refuses. He doesn’t want to get rich off of another man’s means. (See my caveat below for questions I still have). Instead, Abraham continues to look to the Lord to provide.

And God does.

Look at how Genesis 15 opens:

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” Genesis 15:1 (ESV)

But Abraham brings up a little thing. A trifling thing, really.

“But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” – Genesis 15:2 (ESV)

See.  You have to love Abraham.

He has an infatuation with the little things.

Here he is, talking with God, who has just promised him a very great reward (most likely because he just turned down a great reward from the other guys), and he has the nerve (or the guts?) to say, “That’s great and all, but…”

…what about an heir?”

…In case you haven’t noticed, I’m still childless.”

…You said that I would be a great nation. I don’t even have a small family!”

I don’t think Abraham was complaining here. I don’t think he was wavering in his faith either.

I  think he was calling God to task on fulfilling what He promised.

Abraham was resolute in foregoing the treasures of the kings of the earth; now he wants to know if God is still going to be resolute in providing all that He has promised.

Sometimes God wants us to press into Him – and all that He has promised – and not just settle.

That’s why its ok to have an infatuation with the little, yet significant, things.

Because nothing is insignificant if God has promised it. It doesn’t matter what else comes along.

Have a hang-up in life about looking for God delivering on all that He has promised. And keep in mind that everything He has promised is found in His Son, Jesus Christ.

He’s the exceedingly great reward.

He’s also the son who will ultimately come along as God fulfills His promises (cf. John 8).

For Further Thought:

1. To make a covenant meant that you were liable to fulfill on your part of the agreement.  If you didn’t com through, you were to suffer the same fate as the slain animals.  That’s why Abraham had them cut in two.  Normally the two parties walked through the middle together.  But there, God causes Abraham to fall asleep and He alone passes through.

What do you think the significance of that, is?

2. Do you suppose God had a problem with Abraham being so upfront and blatant about the question and complaint of still not having an heir?  Why or why not?

My Personal Caveat (or Questions I still have):

Caveat: What I can’t understand is why Abraham would take it from Pharoah, but not from the kings of Sodom/Gomorrah; maybe it was their state of godlessness. After all, Egypt was a friendly place for Abraham and his family to sojourn during a famine (cf. Genesis 12). All that to say that I am a pastor, and some things in the Bible still disturb me.

RTBY Day 5: Come let us….lest we

Coming to chapter 11 of Genesis, I am thankful for reading through the Bible from the beginning. As you have done this with me, tell me, do you find anything “funny” about this episode regarding the Tower of Babel?

Anything, familiar?

Most of the times, pastors, theologians, authors, love to highlight that the people at Babel were attempting to build something to rival God out of their pride. It makes for a good rhetorical argument, that ‘s for sure. Plus, it allows them to quote and agree with C.S. Lewis who considered pride to be the chief of all sins (in his classic book Mere Christianity).

While I’m not inclined to disagree about that last statement, I find reading all of Genesis 11 shows me that there was something else occurring here. It isn’t just about the pride of man, and God putting man in his place.

Read and tell me what you think:

“And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:3-4 (ESV)

Their desire was not just for a name, or a structure that reached up to the heavens.

Their desire was to not be dispersed throughout the earth.

Their desire was to be insulated and together. To have life on their own terms. To have safety, security. Their preferences honored at all times.

Their way.

Sure that sounds like pride. Especially of the Frank Sinatra variety. But pride is not just the usual thinking highly of yourself.

It is putting your own needs and desires ahead of others.

In this case, its wanting life on their own terms, not God’s.

Because He wanted them to scatter.

God’s concern is not that through human ingenuity, it would actually be possible for them to “reach up to the heavens,” like they were proposing. Or that they could provide an adequate name for themselves. No! When God says “nothing will be impossible for them”, He is referring to the fact that no plan of theirs to avoid God’s plans for them will fail.

God’s not threatened by their human potential. He’s grieved that everything the propose to do is antithetical to all what He wants for them, and from them.

Remember what God tells Adam, and Noah – “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”

In other words….”Spread out! Image me throughout the entire earth. Be my ‘man on the ground’ in every corner of the world.”

Or, to paraphrase Abraham Kuyper, “Live in light of the reality that ‘every square inch is mine!'” So, God once again intervenes.  In chapter 11 He intervenes to scatter them.  In chapter 12, He intervenes by calling another man on the ground – Abram – to serve a critical role in furthering God’s image throughout the earth.

God isn’t threatened by man’s attempts to make a name for themselves. He is concerned at them not living in light of who they were meant to be.

[6] And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. [7] Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” [8] So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. [9] Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.”Genesis 11:6-9 (ESV)

For Further Thought:
1. Read the rest of today’s passages and notice the theme of God providing for His people. How does that affect the way you respond to God and His work for your life, in your life, and through your life?

2. In Genesis 12, we come to the story of Abraham. Does Abraham sound like a solution to the problem of human sin from Genesis 11? If so, how so? If not, why not?

3. Christopher Wright has written in his book, The Mission of God, that the calling of Abraham could really be an OT paraphrase of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…that He called Abram.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

Digging Deeper:
The above mentioned book, The Mission of God by Christopher Wright is an incredible book on the subject of God’s mission, with heavy emphasis on the calling of Abram. Its also incredibly big and somewhat dense. Not for the faint of heart (at well over 500+ pages), but if you like this kind of stuff, its the best book, on the subject, I have come across.

Two other recent books (that I have not read, but have heard others recomend or can assume that they are good) are God’s Big Picture Book by Vaughn Roberts, and The Mission of God’s People by Christopher Wright. This later book really looks like a more accessible version of his larger book previously mentioned.  A good friend, Jeremy Floyd, told me about the other book, by Vaughn Roberts, as another resource similar to Wright’s stuff.

RTBY Day 4: God is the God of Do-Overs (Genesis 9)

You have to love this episode in the Bible. Noah and his family leaving the ark. God has just “wiped the slate clean” (the flood) and now has another man on the ground.

What do you think you would tell Noah if you were God?

“Listen little man, you’ve just witnessed what I am capable of regarding people who disobey me. And I’ve learned from that experience. I want you to do something completely different…completely foreign to anything that has come before.”

That’s what I might have said. But God goes a different, even unexpected route…

even though it is completely familiar.

God tells Noah to do the exact same thing He told Adam in Genesis 1-2.

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them,

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” – Genesis 9:1

God is into do-overs.

Not, “Learn from your mistakes and do something different.”

Not, “Man is still fallen, so don’t have anything to do with them.”

God says, “I have wiped the slate clean. And I still want you to do and be what I’ve created you to do and be.”

Noah is supposed to do the same thing Adam was supposed to do. At this point it didn’t involve a tree of life, but it did still involve being fruitful and multiplying in the earth, filling it and subduing it.

Noah was to be an image bearer of God, or as I have grown accustomed to saying, Noah was to be “God’s man on the ground.”

God is the God of do-overs.

Thoughts for Further Reflection

1. Have you ever considered that God’s restart with Noah after the flood is really the same basic idea He had in mind with Adam?

2. How would this affect your understanding of what God wants from us, His creatures, and “men/women on the ground”?

3. Is there something in your life that makes you have a hard time believing God can forgive you, or do anything with you, because of it? If so, pray and trust it all to the God of do-overs.

RTBY Day 3 – Genesis 6 & The Greatest Word in the Bible

The Bible is filled with words.

774,746 to be exact. So how do you pick which one is the “greatest”.

The Muhamed Ali of words found in sacred scripture, in my opinion, is the simply significant, “but“.

It occurs fairly regularly. In fact, the story line of almost every story in the Bible hinges on this one word. Just when things look the worst, and there’s no other place to turn in the story, you can rest assured there will be a “but” coming along.

Take this episode of the account of Noah, found in Genesis 6:11-19.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you.

It seems that as man keeps moving East of Eden, things continue on an ever-increasing downward spiral. Within the first family there is blame-shifting and murder, and further down the family tree, we start to see the emergence of gangsta rap – glorifying in one’s pride at the expense of eliminating all competition – with the song of Lamech. It seems to just get worse and worse, not better.

God sees this.

God seeks to intervene and to prevent this downward spiral from going any further.

And the only way forward is to wipe the slate clean.

But…wait a minute.

Maybe there is another way.

A reset is in order. But that doesn’t have to entail total obliteration of all that God Himself created. It does entail finding someone to serve as a new covenant representative (or in theological terms, “federal head”).

Cue the music.  Bring out Noah.

The beauty of this story is that even in the midst of depressing human nature doing what we do best apart from God – seeking life on our own terms and at everyone else’s expense – and the damning divine response to the wickedness of sinful man, there is still a “but“.

God is not a wrathful war-monger, looking to drop the hammer at the slightest offense on puny little man.

Instead, God is the God of looking for another way.

He’s the God who looks for alternate solutions.

And when they don’t present themselves on their own?

He’s the God who creates them.

He’s the God of prepositions.

That’s why “but” is the most significant word in the Bible.

Thoughts for Further Reflection:

1.  When you read the account of Noah and the Flood, what images come to mind?

2. In Genesis 6, God says that He will “destroy” the world and every living thing in it.  But then He calls Noah and his family to preserve their family and two of every kind of animal.  Do you find that strange?

3. How do you think this might inform the way you think and talk about the yet-future “destruction” of the world?  Do you think there would be more similarities to the future destruction and this destruction, or dis-similarities?

Going Deeper

All of this stuff is talked about, at great lengths, by many brilliant and humble theologians. This is one of those tricky passages that get talked alot about under the umbrella of Covenant Theology.  I personally have two great specific resources to point you to if you are interested in reading further.  (I would also say that the ESV Study Bible would be a valuable one-stop-shop resource for nearly any question you might think up when reading through the Bible).

Far as the Curse is Found by Michael D. Williams.

Single-handedly my favorite book for helping gain a better grasp for the major plot and plot developments of the entire Bible.  I just led a Men’s bible study through this and it was regarded by the rest of the guys as a great book and helpful in re-calibrating an understanding of the Bible as a whole in a way that is consistent across the Old and New Testaments.  I cannot recommend this book enough.

 

Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson.

This book is regarded by many as the book to go to for understanding the various covenants in the Bible and how they relate to one another.  This with Williams’ book would be worthwhile additions to your library, and great conversation partners for gaining a better understanding of how God relates to man through covenant. If you could only get one of these, I would go with Williams’ book.  It offers more breadth than Robertsons’, but that does not mean that Robertson’s book is less than great.  Its just more narrow in scope.

RTBY – Day 2: Genesis 3-4

If you imagined a conversation with God, what do you think would be the first thing He’d ask you?

Why are you such a screw-up?

Why couldn’t you just obey?

Why couldn’t you be stronger?

Or have more resolve?

Why couldn’t you stick with your resolutions through day 2?

How could you disappoint Me by disobeying Me like you have?

Don’t you know who I am?

The first man and woman had such a conversation right after they willfully disobeyed the one rule, one simple rule, God gave them (Genesis 3). As did the first recorded murderer in human history (Genesis 4).

What do you suppose was God’s question to them?

Genesis 3:9 tell us:

“Where are you?”

Not, “How could you?”

Not, “What have you done?” That comes later. In both stories.

With Adam and Eve, God’s question comes from His love for His people. He feels the distance between them. It wasn’t there the day before. He already knows – at the very least no matter what you’re theological persuasion – that something has gone wrong.

Yet God’s primary concern – the first thing out of His mouth – is relational.

“Where are you?”

With Cain, who had murdered his brother Abel, God asks the same question, but in a different way. Instead of asking where Cain is, He asks about Cain’s brother. This is an invitation for Cain to confess his sin and perhaps (we don’t know what “might” have happened, only what did happen) be restored in relationship to God and His fellow man.

The reply of both Adam and Cain, was to shift the blame.  “The woman you gave me.”  “Am I my brothers keeeper?”  Both responses on their part show that neither of them really knew God that well.

If they had, they would have recognized that what God wants first and foremost is a relationship with His people, not someone to punish or blame.  While its true that God can’t let sin go unpunished, its also equally true that what He wants more is restoration.  This is what the death of Jesus will eventually accomplish for us.  Not just satisfaction for sin, but also the ability to be reconciled to God.

Maybe you and I don’t know the God of the Bible quite like we thought we did.

Thoughts for Further Reflection:

1.  How would you have answered the question at the very beginning – If God came to you, what do you think would be the first thing He asked you?

2.  Do you imagine God to be more of a Righteous Judge (“What have you done…so I can assign the right punishment?”) or more of a Concerned Parent (“What have you done…so I can be with you and help make it right?)?

3.  Do you recognize that God is both Righteous Judge and Concerned Parent?  That’s why Jesus is so crucial for us!  He is the One who comes as God in the flesh, because it was His concern for His Father’s Holiness (which sin deserves a just punishment) and His relationship with His people (so He took it upon Hismelf to satisfy it).

4.  How does this affect your view of God?