Greetings once more friends the world over!
Let’s see how we ended in Part 1 of this series: Communication is prayer; boundary is the Bible; sacrifice is obedience and fasting; goal is our calling and meditation, leadership is vision; and encouragement is praise. Let me elaborate on these six Love “etiquettes” we bring into our relationship with the Triune God.
Dove – Symbol of Divine Love (Wiki Commons)
It is clear from the Bible that God wants to be addressed in a loving Fatherly way where we call Him “Abba, Father.” It’s an endearing term like “Dad,” “Papa,” or whatever manner we address fathers in our various customs and cultures. “The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Rom.8:15) When we communicate with our biological fathers, there is no legalistic rules which says you can speak to him only three times a day, like its commonly taught in Christianity to pray. Paul tells us to be constant in prayer or communication. (Col.4:2) He said be faithful in communicating (praying) to God. (Rom12:12) It means we can approach God at any time of day or night and He is always attentive to what we have to say. He doesn’t get tired of hearing from us. Of course, we ought always to be reverent in our attitude.
How to Pray
Not being disingenuous in any way, humans don’t know how to pray (communicate) with God because He is holy and humans exist in a fallen state of existence that’s in total conflict with Him. He exists in a glorified state of His consummate Love that humans don’t have it in them to approach such a holy God. To be blunt, the radiance of His righteous glory would annihilate us because of our depraved state of being. But He made us in His image, and has made a way in His Son who glorified our humanity through and in Himself, by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, so we can communicate freely through Him. And God had this planned from the beginning that this was the only way sinful humans could communicate with Him directly – through a Mediator who is a permanent Savior for humanity.
Hence, the Bible tells us Christ prays for us. “Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Rom.8:34) So does the Holy Spirit. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Rom.8:6) These two verses from the same chapter in Romans tells how God receives our prayer. Paul says, “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Eph.6:18) The Spirit has been given to be the believer’s sponsor before God “forever” – “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” (John 14:16) The Spirit constantly takes our communication (prayers) to Jesus who presents our utterances perfect before the Father. That is the only way God can open the channel of communication with Him in His Son and through the Spirit who lives in us. Prayer is not a chore, it is an act of Love.
And remember this, this mediation principle by Jesus in the Spirit’s power applies to the remaining Love “etiquettes” below.
The Bible/Family Rules and Customs
Just as the family rules and customs are not unknown to each member of the human family, so it ought to be in the family of God. Peter says, “We study to show ourselves approve unto God.” (2 Tim.2:15, KJV) We read and study our Bibles when necessary to know what the proper form of behavior in God’s family. Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim.3:16) If we don’t, how do we know how to behave in an acceptable way before the members of the family who are knowledgeable about the rules and customs. If we are left out of the loop, our actions would cause acrimony and division. Even in the arena of sports, the objective of a game is governed by the rules on how to attain the game’s objective. Without rules, there is no game. Rules exist to ensure the objectives are achieved within the bounds set for it, so fair play governs the game. Without rules there would be chaos and disorder. It is because we understand this underlying reason that we get to know about the rules.This is no different with God and His relationship with His family.
Jesus is the Personified Word of God. It is Herald the Spirit who makes Christ relevant in the way we think and act within the bounds of the “Triune Life.” (John 16:13-15)
They say rules are made to be broken. Consequently, sacrifice is something we give so co-equality is the condition that can be sensed by all in the family environment. As in all human societies, there are people who flaunt rules rather than make sacrifices to obey them. There are times when rules don’t concur with our plans. It happens. This is when we are called upon to let go of our personal desires for the greater good of all in the family. In God’s family, our Father has given us the promised Spirit to help us make the sacrifices and be obedient to the rule of Love which makes us co-equal. Obedience is not something legalistic, but we do out of self-giving, self-sacrificing, Love because we are contributing to the family’s greater good. God our Father has not asked us to sacrifice for His family without stepping on the plate and be the first to do so by sacrificing His Son for us. (John 3:16-17)
Jesus is the only human who obeyed God perfectly, and it is through His life that we live vicariously and appear before the Father. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” (Heb.4:15)
The purpose of rules and obedience is so discipline can be inculcated in members of the family. This discipline extends to how a person conducts himself and becomes part of a responsible citizenry. But in a personal sense, this exercise of one’s self-will in a responsible manner extends to each person’s development, especially in the area of education. The purpose of education is to help one make right and responsible decisions in life. Education is the vehicle by which members of the family discover their gifts and vocations to live purposely lives. This is the same in the family of God. God has gifted us all differently so we can have purpose and meaning in life.
Jesus is giver of all gifts because He is the repository of all Godly wisdom from which destinies originate: “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col.2:3; Eph.4:8)
Rublev’s famous icon of Holy Trinity
Without loving leadership in the family, all of the above will amount to nothing. Leadership in the family falls squarely upon the shoulders of the parents, chiefly the father. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Pro.29:18) Leadership starts the communication, it sets the rules for the family, and ensures all members of the family obey them, and make sacrifices where and when necessary and by whom. Most of all, leadership provides a common vision where all members of the family can feel part of, and are co-equal beneficiaries through their individual calling and purpose. Leadership provides a way for all who are gifted differently to express their talents and arrive at the common objective. The family of God works the same way: our heavenly Father provides the loving leadership in an environment with co-equal vision and objectives.
Jesus is the head and leader of the family called the church: “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way. ” (Eph.1:22-23; 4:7-8)
In life, as in any endeavor, setbacks are a fact of life. There will be discouraging episodes when giving up seems like the only option. That is when leadership steps in to encourage members of the family to hang in there. Good leadership praise and reward people for their industry and loyalty. The Bible tells us, “All things work together for good,” even the bad episodes. Joseph told his brothers who had sold him at the age of seventeen to the slave market, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.” (Gen.50:20) Too many times we interpret the present negative circumstance in isolation from the bigger picture. Every experience, be it a good or bad, is like a piece of the jig-saw puzzle forming the picture we see on the box (vision/gift). Obviously, any single piece of the puzzle of itself cannot tell us how the whole picture will turn out. That’s why it’s called a puzzle. And life can be puzzling at times. Proper leadership and vision encourages the family to stay the course till the desired goal is reached.
God has the power to create circumstances to make all things work in your favor. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8) Also, “For He has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” So that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my Helper,” and I will not fear what man shall do to me.” (Heb.13:5-6)
These are the six “etiquettes” we bring into the “Triune Life” in our relationship with the family of God. I hope it has been helpful.
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you today and give you strength for authentic creative Triune Living as a Bula man-river.*
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiang (Your Servant in Christ)
*The “Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. Man is the “riverbed” and the Spirit is the “living waters” that cover him and flows to all in his valley (destiny). (John 7:37-39)
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.