A Short Confession

This is not so much a theological discussion as a confession that my view of God has been somewhat distorted.  Having spent some time thinking about what it means to be “in the Father”, and hence about intimacy with God, I have been confronted with many ways in which such intimacy is avoided.  While I was weeding the paving in my back yard, the Father spoke to me, saying, “I want you to enjoy me.”  This is, I confess, something I am not sure how to do.  Since then I have been trying to do just that, and realising that I am not sure how.  I keep wanting to ask, “What do you want me to do?”  This need to do something and be busy with doing something for God may well be a means of avoiding intimacy with God.

There are many ways of avoiding intimacy with God, which on the surface look like the opposite.  Going to church falls into this category.  “Doing church” can be an activity which, instead of enhancing intimacy with God, enables us to feel that we have done our religious duty and hence avoided all intimacy with God.  I am sure that I have used it this way many times.  I have been conscious over the last week of so many times in which I have used activity as a means of avoiding intimacy.  In trying to stop myself doing this, I realised that it is very difficult for me to simply be with God without asking for something or being distracted onto something “more pressing”.

It was while I was praying about how to enjoy God that I realised something else about myself and my distorted view of God.  In Luke 19:11-27 there is a parable about a king who went away for a time and left his servants with some money, hoping for a return on his money when he came back.  The servants used the money and made more money.  These were rewarded for it.  But one of the servants hid the money because he was afraid.  He said, “I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man.  You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow” (v 21).  I realised that I have spent many years acting like the man who was afraid.  I thought of God as a hard man.  He has given me gifts and for years I was afraid to take them out of hiding.  I always worried that I would not do things “right” and this would upset God.  In reality, he is only disappointed when I did nothing.  Once I took the gifts out of hiding, he blessed those efforts, even if I am not always doing things “right”.

This hidden assumption that God is a hard man resulted in a lack of fruitfulness.  The servants in the parable who took risks with the money were those who earned more money and were commended.  The servant who hid the money because he was afraid had his money taken away.  Fear of taking risks, fear of using my gifts, does not result in fruitfulness.  I am reminded this morning of Luther’s statement, “sin and sin boldly”.[1]  Since our God is not a hard man, but a gracious Father, who loves us, we can actually take the risk of getting things wrong in serving him.  It is quite possible that what I do is not always in the will of God, because I have misunderstood what that will is.  But I can act in faith, knowing that it is better to act than to hide.  Those who act instead of hiding gain more responsibility.  The grace of God is large enough to cover our mistakes.

So I suppose I cannot get “enjoying the Father” wrong because he is a gracious God who does not condemn his children for taking risks.  This is all the more reason to come boldly before the throne of grace (Heb 4:16).  So let me encourage you to take the grace of God seriously, and to “risk” enjoying God.

[1] .”If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life in not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. . . . Pray boldly-you too are a mighty sinner.” (Weimar ed. vol. 2, p. 371; Letters I, “Luther’s Works,” American Ed., Vol 48. p. 281- 282)

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