Do you ever find yourself wrestling with how you are supposed to relate to God as a Christian? Is he your heavenly Father, or the Holy God? Is he approachable, or to be feared? Is it safe for you to curl up in his lap, or do you need to stand at a distance? I have struggled often with the tension of God's supremacy and worth vs. the scandalous level of safety and intimacy he offers sinners through the gospel. The question that has puzzled my mind is this: How can I come to God as my Father without belittling God as my King? For as long as I didn't have an answer to this question I came to God the entirely wrong way, and in turn, missed out on the deep and meaningful relationship he means for every believer to have with him.
The Foundation Of Our Relationship
We know from many scriptures that for those who believe in Jesus, "they have been given the right to become children of God," (John 1:12). We must realize that while God has always been God, he has not always been our Father. Through the blood of Christ, we have been given a new way to relate to God altogether, or you might say, our relationship is now based on an entirely new foundation. Let me try to explain what we are getting at through an illustration.
When a child is born, how do they first relate to their parents? Based on their profession or their paternity? Based on their employment hierarchy or their heredity? The obvious answer is that a child relates to his or her parents as mother and father first, not Truck Driver, Nurse, or Carpenter. But what if your father is an extremely powerful and important leader? What if he doesn't just have an average job? What if he were the president? What if he were the king? Would that change the way a child relates to his daddy?
This is where Christians find themselves; caught in the tension of our Father's power, might, and authority, and the open invitation of personal intimacy with him as 'Daddy' through the work of Christ. He deserves our reverence, our devotion, our outright supreme allegiance. To rebel against the Lord God is none other than treason. After all, we occupy his world, "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…" (Psalm 24:1). "God is in the heavens, he does all that he pleases," (Psalm 115:3). "He does according to his will among the host of heaven… and none can stay his hand," (Daniel 4:35). These things are true about God before he becomes our Father, and they are still true about him after he becomes our Father. So what are we supposed to do? It feels scary to get too close, to take our relationship too lightly, to put our guard down and come running into our Daddy's arms, and at the same time it feels hollow and exhausting to never draw close enough for a hug, to never rest in his lap, to never experience real intimacy…
As we said before, through Christ our entire foundation for a right relationship with God has been changed. Imagine someone who sold a plot of land in one town, and bought a new plot of land in the next town over. Which plot would they build their new house on? The old or the new? Obviously the new. Why? Because the old is no longer theirs. They don't own it anymore. And this simple concept applies very well to the way we must understand our new relationship with God, our Father. The whole world is born separated from God through sin. In short, he is not our Daddy. He is God the Judge. He is God the Holy. He is the Almighty and Unapproachable. This is the basis for how the world relates to God outside of Jesus Christ. Our rebellion in sin puts us at odds with God. But when we are "born again," (John 3:3), we are born into a new foundation for our relationship with God. While all those same characteristics about God are still defining of who he is, they are no longer the functional foundation for how we engage with him. Our entire relationship is now defined by our adoption through faith in Christ.
To Know The Whole Person
To carry on the previous illustration of how a child relates to their parents when they are born, let's consider how that relationship grows over time. A five year old boy has no ability to comprehend what it means that his daddy is the king. He may know the title, but he cannot yet know the substance. Still, this doesn't decrease his sonship or stifle the reality that his father is both daddy and king. Instead, it simply reveals that the depth of his relationship to his father has an immense amount of room to grow. As the boy matures in knowledge and understanding, so too will grow his ability to fully comprehend the identity of his father. Let me try to say it another way: When a father comes home from work how does he enter his house? Does he say, "The CEO is home!" Or, "The Electrician has arrived!" No. He says, "Daddy is here!" Why? Why doesn't he define himself by his profession? By his credentials? By his job title? Because those are branches on the tree of his most significant identity. What is most central to how he relates to his children is his fatherhood, not his career. To his employees or coworkers he may refer to himself by his job title, because that is what defines their relationship, but not so with his children.
When you, as a Christian, face the tension of trying to grasp the whole identity of God, drawing near to him as Father and honoring him as Lord, here is my advice: Anchor your soul in the identity that God has chosen to make primary. "…who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God," (John 1:13). Our salvation cannot be disconnected from our spiritual adoption. God's Bible calls him Father and us his children through faith in Christ. This is not man's metaphor, but the Lord's. Therefore, take rest in the identity he has chosen to be defining for your relationship with him. And yet, although a child may have no ability to understand what it means that their father is the king when they are five, they should understand that important part of their fathers identity more and more as they age. The point is this: While the foundation for our relationship with God is to view him as Father through our adoption, we must never forget that God is not only our Father. He is also Lord. He is King. He is Holy. He is Judge. He is Almighty. He is Eternal. He reigns. He rules. He governs the universe according to his will. His wisdom is inscrutable. He does whatever he pleases. His might is unstoppable. He is the Lord of Hosts. The whole of creation was made, "through him and for him," (Col. 1:16).
The tree trunk of the Christian's relationship with God is to relate to him as their heavenly Father, but on every tree are many branches. Rest in your Father's lap, curl up next to him him on the couch, let your heart spill over, be honest, be blunt, be sincere, but by all means seek to know the fullness of his identity that you might mature to relate to him as more than just Daddy, but as "My Daddy, the King."