Thursday, January 17, 2013

Getting to Know You

The title is a song from the 1951 musical named “The King and I”.  The play was about a female teacher hired by the king of the country then known as Siam.  The repeated chorus of the song says, “Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you.  Getting to like you, Getting to hope you like me.  Getting to know you, Putting it my way, But nicely, You are precisely, My cup of tea.”.  The full lyrics can be found here: http://bit.ly/SDW0oB.  I was reminded of the song and how much it fits our relationship with God by something Billy Graham said, “It's one thing to be introduced to a person, but quite different to know someone personally. The same applies to God. Get to know Him.”.  What’s your way of meeting God?

The relationship of Anna (the teacher) and the king went from her thinking he was arrogant and egotistical to her falling in love with him.  She didn’t like him much, but the pay was good.  And, then, Anna began to realize that he was very sure of himself and his way of doing things because of the power and experience he had as the king of what is now known as Thailand.  Does that sound anything like our relationship with God?

How often do we read in the Bible something like the words in Matthew 23:33, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”?  It seems like every time Israel doesn’t have a good leader to keep them in tow or they choose wrong influences, they somehow determine God is disinterested or too tough, always expecting too much from them.

The people of Israel would be right if God really expected us to do everything with nothing more than the strength of our flesh.  But that’s not the case.  When Israel asked for laws that they might be obedient, their expectation was that they had become so spiritual that they could follow them in their own power.  God knew better and gave them ten commandments.  It didn’t take Israel all that long to expand those ten to over six hundred.  And the combination of laws became something no man could follow without breaking at least one.

Israel and, eventually, groups like the Pharisees and Scribes depicted God as a hard taskmaster, interested in nothing but performance.  Somehow, they missed that Moses stuttered and had been a murderer, or that David had conspired to murder Uriah so that his sexual advances on Bathsheba wouldn’t be adulterous, or that Joshua didn’t use some really fantastic military strategy to conquer Jericho.  What all three did was to eventually allow their thinking to line up with God’s thoughts so that He was in control.

Whether we think too much of ourselves or too little, it’s because we focus on us.  Remember when Moses was told by God, in Numbers 21, to make a brass serpent for the people to focus on, in order to be healed of the snake bites?  God had a triple lesson in the situation.
  1. Man had no power to deal with the situation, so they had to focus on something other than the circumstances and themselves.
  2. The deliverance was ongoing, in the situation, they didn’t need to be delivered out of it.
  3. God would deliver them.
Those are pretty powerful lessons.

If Israel and some of the church people today really paid attention, everything in the Old Testament pointed to what culminated in the New Testament.  And Jesus summarized it in Mark 12:29-31.  Love God, love people, in that order.  That focus comes from God’s work in us, “because He first loved us”.  And our focus is away from our wants and how we ought to do something.  Again, by ourselves, we can do nothing correctly.  But allowing God to work His love toward us, in us, and through us, we don’t need to worry about whether we have the right prayer language, whether our spirituality gained us earthly wealth or the right amount of miracles, etc.

When, like Anna with the king of Siam, we pay attention to the King instead of ourselves, we can honestly tell Him that we’re “getting to know You”.  And the revelation of His love and how much He has our back will leave us like the apostles, saying we have no other place to go.

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