God, our Daddy Father in heaven, is the most intimate, personal, accessible companion we have. Far better than any human father we could imagine or dream of

And yet at the same time, he is holy. He is set apart, different from us and all he has created. His uniqueness, holiness, and perfection is to be “hallowed”—honored and revered. 

The fact that intimacy and set apart go together in our relationship with God is remarkable. 

When Jesus taught us to pray to God our Father and say “Hallowed be your name,” he invites us, and everyone else,  to recognize who God is. That we all respect him.

It gives us pause for thought and to realize how far we are from recognizing and respecting the “Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne” who is “Holy, holy, holy.”

Or like Isaiah, we realize “Woe to me!” …“I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5). 

Growing up in the church, I was taught the importance of giving reverence to God and how much I didn’t measure up. Reverence for God, I felt, was more significant than knowing God intimately, as a caring and loving Father. This might be the same for you.

Reverence meant going to church on Sunday—twice—to worship God. It meant dressing up and wearing our Sunday clothes. It meant distinguishing Sunday from the rest of the week in what we didn’t do on that day. 

There is nothing wrong with these things and they are a way of honoring God. So too is reading our Bibles regularly, practicing praying, giving thanks at mealtimes, and a myriad more ways in which we respect God in our lives. And when we come to know God through Christ, we want to do these things and honor God in these ways.

But, I have to wonder if sometimes in making ourselves look respectable we become more concerned about what we look like on the outside rather than our inward relationship with God.

Jesus, elsewhere in his teaching, is quite vocal about what this is like. And because he can see inside of people, and knows our hearts, he gets to the point very quickly. I think about his words to Martha: “Martha, Martha,” … “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41).

And to the rich ruler: “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).

Jesus very much reprimanded people, especially the Pharisees, who thought their appearance in how they honored God was right and their rule keeping was important. 

Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God” (Luke 18:9-14)

“And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:46).

We have to be careful even if we think, “I’m not like the Pharisees.” In doing so, we are falling into the trap of our own self-righteousness.

Instead, Jesus said we are to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. It’s a tall order, that none of us can achieve. 

Jesus was looking for something different from people, other than or alongside doing the right thing.

Jesus wanted total abandonment to God. And he showed us how to model this reverence for God our Father.

“Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

Giving reverence to God is more about realizing we can’t do it on our own and that we were never meant to do it on our own. It’s a constant reliance on God—”help me…” “give me…” “thank you for…” “sorry,” “forgive me,” “why?” “how?” “what do you want me to do?” “when will you…?” “where…?”  

And when we worry that we’re not showing the right reverence to God, he is there doing it for us, just like he did with Isaiah: Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven” (Isaiah 6:6-7).


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