I find it quite amusing sometimes sitting in my office listening as pupils come in, and out, of the classroom. The walls are very thin so I can hear everything. Every now and again I hear pupils saying “just knock, it’s fine”. As I said I find it quite amusing but I imagine it can be quite daunting – having to go and speak to a teacher. Quite often if I ask someone why they haven’t completed something, or why they haven’t done their homelearning I am greeted with the response, “I didn’t understand” to which I respond “well why didn’t you come and ask me?” “I’m not sure”.
I think it is because people are worried that I’m going to get angry, or that I will think they are silly, it may well just be because I am an adult and am seen to have a position of authority at the school. I find it quite odd, but that’s because I don’t see myself as anything other than a human who quite often makes mistakes as well! But when I was at school… well yes… I probably did feel the same way.
So… we find it difficult to approach humans, especially certain ones, normally those older than us, or those in authority. However, within Christianity, because of the events celebrated at Easter, we are told that we can approach God. Yes God. This is the same God we believe created the world, who has always and will always exist, who is perfect, who is all-loving all-knowing, and all-powerful, and yet we can approach him! Now that is daunting!
We will explore what this means later but first let’s get a brief history
In Judaism, in the temple there was something known as the Holy of holies, this is where it was believed that God dwelt. The high priest was the only one allowed in there once a year. Sacrifices had to be made to appease God. God was seen as a distant character who was not available to the normal person.
Yet in Christianity we are told that we can approach God. Our thought this week comes from John’s Gospel and says
This is the confidence we have when approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
We can approach God in prayer, and we can ask for things, and he will hear us – important to note that he won’t always say yes! But prayer doesn’t have to mean asking for things, it can just mean spending time with God. One of the greatest privileges as a teacher is when pupils come and see me, not because they need help, but because they want to tell me about something exciting that has happened to them, an achievement they have had, or because they are upset about something and they just need some space, and normally a hot chocolate! This is because they’ve seen past the scary teacher persona and have seen that actually I interested in their whole life not just their work.
Imagine how frustrating it must be for God (except he doesn’t get frustrated) to only hear from people in prayer when they are desperate or when they are in need. God wants to hear everything, yes he already knows it has happened, but he wants us, to want to tell him. That might mean being highly excitable and thankful, or it might mean sitting in tears not actually able to talk.
I’ve probably mentioned before that I love the Chronicles of Narnia, and one of my favourite parts during the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, is when Lucy and Susan approach Asian as he is walking to the stone table. He doesn’t have a go at them for spying on him, but he allows them to put their hands in his mane. No words are spoken, but it is a very special moment, we are told it is something they had always wanted to do but never dreamt they had been able to. We possibly think it would be great to sit in the presence of God but there is no way we would ever be able to.
The great thing is that because of the cross, we no longer have to wait for someone special to go to God on our behalf, we can approach him ourselves. When I talk about sin I often use an image of two cliffs, man on one cliff, God on the other, with sin separating the two. But then the cross goes in the middle, sin is taken away and man can walk across the bridge to God. Daunting yes, but amazing as well! God wants us to approach him, not because he wants us to be a part of his life (we already are) but because he wants to be a part of ours!
Prayer: thank you God that you sent Jesus to live on earth and to die on the cross, so that we may approach you with confidence. Help us to share all of our life with you not just the rubbish! Amen
Challenge: spend 5 minutes each day chatting with each other about your day, thanking God for the good, and praying for your concerns.