Isaiah 6:1-5 (NIV) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
The Fox and the Lion
When first the Fox saw the Lion he was terribly frightened, and ran away and hid himself in the wood. Next time however he came near the King of Beasts he stopped at a safe distance and watched him pass by. The third time they came near one another the Fox went straight up to the Lion and passed the time of day with him, asking him how his family were, and when he should have the pleasure of seeing him again; then turning his tail, he parted from the Lion without much ceremony.
The moral of Aesop’s Fable, The Fox and the Lion, is “familiarity breeds contempt”. Contempt is disrespect and disgrace. It is to disregard authority. Sometimes it is evident in an act of willful disobedience. What does this have to do with anything about God? It has become heavy on my heart that maybe there are times when I become too familiar with God. I am a Child of God. He is my Friend. Jesus is my Savior. He is everything to me. However, in the midst of our relationship his character is not changed by our close proximity. God remains Sovereign. Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
When the old adage came to mind, I did a little research as to its origin and found the old fable about the fox and the lion. When the fox first encountered the lion, he ran away in fear. The second time he saw the King of Beasts remaining safely distant watched as he passed by. By the third time, the fox became confident in the presence of the lion even chatting with him before “turning his tail” leaving without “much ceremony”. As I pause here, I have to wonder. The lion was gracious to the fox as without a moment’s hesitation – he could have easily overtaken the inferior creature and consumed the small animal. Did the fox take the lion’s grace for granted? Yes. He turned his back on the lion. How many times have I taken my relationship with God for granted becoming casual, comfortable and complacent in the Presence of the Creator of the Universe? Many times I am afraid. His Presence fills a sanctuary and I am too prideful to honor Him in fear that others might think I have fallen short in some way when in truth I fall short every day.
So I looked up the word “familiar” to decide how it can breed contempt in my relationship with God. Here is what I discovered:
Familiar has six definitions that when compared to the Word of God gives way to careful consideration.
Isaiah 6:1-3 (NIV) ) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
To be commonly known or seen. We serve a God who we cannot seen. Jesus told Thomas blessed are those who worship but have yet to see Him. Is it possible that because I cannot “see” a full manifestation of His Glory and view Him in the confines of Heaven that I do not see Him as He is. “I saw the Lord, high and exalted”. To see the Lord rather naturally or spiritually should produce the same result – “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” I can enter the Presence of God. I can enter with confidence and boldness thanks to Jesus Christ. But let me be clear that I am never, ever comfortable there. Have we taken God and His Presence for granted reducing the Living God to a created being?
I Corinthians 13:12 (NIV) For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Well-acquainted or thoroughly conversant. What we know about God and see is only a reflection as in a mirror. A mirror is based on perception. Our position before the mirror, the lighting in the room or other variants determine our view. When I decide that I know what God is doing and that my relationship is complete because I know Him completely. Where is the need for faith and trust? His Ways are higher and so are His Thoughts. I will know the Lord when I stand before Him face to face. For now, all I can rely on is faith in His Love and Grace for my life. This is where religious people can fall victim to contempt. Having God’s Word as a resource and His Spirit as our Guide our perception is still only partial…for now.
Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV) Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Informal, easy going, unceremonious. Does my life grieve the Holy Spirit of God? I believe that our contempt for the Lord in our disregard for the Spiritual Fruit being cultivated in us each day. Things like bitterness, rage, anger, slander, and malice consume and kill spiritual fruit such as love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control destroy the growth of new life as a new creation that God intended for us through Jesus Christ. We do not worry about it and continue to allow willful disobedience to rule our life because someone hurt our feelings, offense takes over or it’s just too hard to do what God has instructed.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Closely intimate and personal. God desires intimacy with us. Jesus wants our relationship to be personal. However, due to becoming too familiar with the Lord, is it possible that He is now taken for granted? It is human nature to assume certain things, but when our expectation is not met it can be disappointing and downright devastating. Our intimate and personal relationship must be with the understanding that He is God. The Great I Am who is truly Sovereign. He cannot change His Mind. We must be changed. With this thought in mind, do we assume certain things about the Lord based on false confidence that we know everything that there is to know about Him? Is our expectation of the Lord set on our wants, needs and desires or do we seek His Will in all things?
Luke 7:40-45 (NIV) Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
Taking liberties and presuming. When the woman poured perfume on Jesus, washed his feet with her tears, and wiping them with hair – the Pharisees were appalled. Jesus addressed the homeowner and religious man with this story. I am humbled as I read it again. How many times do I enter the Presence of the Living God as though I have a right to be there? What has allowed me to ever believe that a single one of my sins is a lesser offense than anyone else’s? I have no right to judge another person but do by refusing to share the Gospel with them because I am too busy worrying about my own life, needs, wants and desires? I have it all. I have Jesus. May I never take for granted the Presence of My Lord, the Holy Inhabitation of His Spirit or the opportunities that I have to share His Great Love.
Hebrews 12:22-29 (NLT) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Domesticated or tame. Do not mistake the character of our Creator as meek or mild. Our God is a consuming fire. Only those who know Jesus and have made them Savior and Lord will receive grace and redemption. The familiarity that has bred contempt in us must go. Coming to the altar of God and seeing Him for Who He really is requires repentance, humility and submission to the One and Only Sovereign God. We must accept the Omnipotence of God, His Omnipresence and Omniscience completely to live in His Presence. Religion lives in the outer court. I want behind the veil where Jesus is. I can know Him. But I must never allow familiarity to breed contempt in my life that causes me to disregard who God is and what He is doing.
Isaiah 6:6-10 (NIV) Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Jesus lives in our heart. But is He on the Throne? It is easy to reduce Him to the status of ordinary but He remains extraordinary. God is good and He is also GREAT! Lord, I am sorry for the ways that I have taken you for granted and reduced you to humanity. Show me the places in my life where you are but are not Lord. Help me to clear the way for you to have Your Will, Way and Throne again!
Exodus 3:13-14 (NIV) Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”