As we go about our daily lives, practising the seemingly endless cycle of going to school, home and church, it’s an inevitable fact that we encounter a variety of people. These people we interact with include our teachers, parents, siblings, friends and many more that cannot be counted. Yet, our human nature causes us to treat each one differently.
How many of us realise that the status of each person determines the way we interact with them, from the manner in which we address them to the activities that we choose to do with them. An obvious example is the difference in the way we talk to our teachers and our friends.
For example, nothing on earth could compel me to whisper my deepest secrets to my teachers, but I would willingly reveal them in the presence of my closest friends. In the same way, I can expect help with my assignments from my teachers. However, I could hardly demand my friends to do so. Even though I respect both parties, their position in reference to mine differentiates the way I communicate and interact with them.
And this leads us to the million-dollar question: How, then, should we interact with God, whose authority and position surpasses all human wisdom? When we pray to God, how should we address him? As a father? A friend? A teacher?
The answer: All of the above! If you delve into the Bible, you will find that it contains numerous human analogies which guide us in which way and manner we should treat and talk to Him. Our limited human minds cannot grasp even the very essence of God, but through these analogies, we may learn to understand God’s person.
In his well-known theological book, Knowing God, J.L. Packer, a famous evangelist and Christian writer, discusses in-depth what exactly knowing God consists of, and its practical importance in our lives. He outlines three main analogies featured in the Bible, which teaches us to know – not only in theory, but in a personal relationship – Him better.
- As a subject to a KING
If you were to meet the Queen, how would you speak to her? Obviously, you will be required to speak to her with the utmost respect, recognising that it is a rare honour to do so.
The Bible describes Jesus’ position as one of a King, one who is sovereign over all creation. Revelation 19:16 says, “On his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” Not only does all authority of all the domains on earth belong to Jesus and Jesus alone, but He is the King of each and every heart of a true believer because He has freed us from the bondage of sin when no one else could. With his precious blood, he has ransomed us, and if we are truly saved, our lives must be dedicated under His rule.
Therefore, as a subject, what are our duties?
Even if we do not completely understand why, or even if we can’t see the point of obeying, we must obey His commands, having faith that God’s plan is the best for His kingdom. Obedience also means that we cannot choose what laws we want to obey or not. Total obedience means accepting and following what God tells us to do without stalling, arguing, or complaining.
Our service to our King isn’t only limited to obedience either. We are required to praise Him too. “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!” (Psalm 47:6-7) We praise Him every Sunday at church, when the congregation sings together, but we can also praise Him through other forms of ministry.
- As a sheep that knows their SHEPHERD
I recall watching a video that featured a variety of people calling to a flock of sheep. Each person had no response, yet when the real shepherd called out to them, they immediately turned towards him and followed him outside the pasture. Just like this authentic example, the Bible labels true believers as sheep who respond only to the voice of their Shepherd, who is Jesus Christ.
The sheep follow His call because they trust Him. They trust Him, knowing that He will protect them from danger – “The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11) – and will lead them to a place of quiet rest – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” (Psalm 21:6). Even though we know we can trust our Shepherd, I still find that my trust in Him wavers in times of difficulty. There is no recipe or to-do list that we must complete to obtain trust in Jesus, but we can only grow to trust in Him when we talk with Him daily.
“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10:3-5) Do we know our Shepherd’s voice? The sheep recognises the Shepherd’s voice because they have heard Him countless times and can differentiate Him from a stranger’s voice.
In this modern era that boasts innumerable temptations, it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate our Shepherd’s voice. There is only one way to become familiar with His voice – by continuous study and meditation of His Word. I still struggle with remembering to do devotions daily and concentrating during sermons, but continuous exposure to His Word will teach us to recognise His voice.
- As a child to their FATHER
Before we address this point, I want to point out that there are a wide variety of earthly fathers. I am blessed to have a patient father who cares for me, yet there are those out there whose fathers have failed them and have even hurt them. But God is an unfailing Father, one who has an unfailing love for His children and will never fail them, unlike fathers on earth. He is sovereign and eternal.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, replacing us on that fateful cross, we are sanctified in His priceless blood, and God the Father lovingly adopts us as His children. Just as a child does nothing to deserve their father’s care and love, we do not deserve God’s fatherly love towards us, rebellious children who so often break His heart. That is why we can trust in Him with child-like dependence, and we know “that as a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)
But a loving father does not only bless His children. If a father really loves his child, he will rebuke them when they have sinned, doing so in order to lead them back to the right path and so that they will not head for destruction.
I admit there are times when God has punished me, either through my earthly parents or other means, and I shook my fist at Him in taunting rebellion, accusing Him of hating me. But now, I realise that He punished me in love. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:11-12) Submit with a humble heart under His rebuke, trusting that He does so in perfect love and wisdom.
Mere words cannot fully describe the person of God. You can only truly discover who He is through your own personal experience of His love, faithfulness and sovereignty, and as we uncover the answer, day by day, let this change our lives and attitude towards Him, our King, Shepherd and eternal Father.