ALL THINGS NEW

A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Most of the concepts of newness that we have looked at over the past few weeks indicate that there is a ‘new’ relationship between God and the Christian believer.

This new relationship is not ‘new’ in terms of never having been experienced by anyone before, but ‘new’ in terms of its contrast to each individual’s previous relationship with God. Prior to our union with Jesus Christ our relationship with God was negative and distant: we were ‘enemies’ of God, we rejected the one true God, we rebelled against his command, we had our backs turned to him, and, because of our sin, were the objects of his wrath, judgement and condemnation, excluded, exiled, banned from his presence. In addition, we viewed any prospect of a positive relationship with God as dependent on our ability to satisfy his perceived demands.

For those who have truly received Jesus Christ, there is a restoration of the relationship with God for which we were created and which God desires for us.

In Jeremiah 3:19 we find words filled with the deep longing of God: ‘I thought you would call me Father …’ [NIV]; ‘I wanted you to call me Father’ [GNB]. Clearly God does not want us to remain cut off from him, distant from him. He wants us to live our every moment secure in his love and acceptance, close to him, trusting him, loving him.

The Bible uses several powerful images to portray this ‘new’ unimpeded, secure, loving, trusting relationship with God:

The image of sheltering under the ‘wings’ of God:

“ … hide me in the shadow of your wings” [Psalm 17:8]

“How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings” [Psalm 36:7]

“I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings …” [Psalm 57:1]

“… I sing in the shadow of your wings …” [Psalm 63:7]

The image of the tender care of a shepherd for his sheep:

“He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” [Isaiah 40:11]

The whole of Psalm 23.

“No one can snatch them out of my hand” [John 10:28].

The image of being carried on eagles’ wings:

“… I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” [Exodus 19:4].

“… those who hope in the LORD … will soar on wings like eagles” [Isaiah 40:31]

The image of a Father holding his little child by the hand:

“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms …” [Hosea 11:3].

The image of unimpeded present and permanent access and acceptance:

“… through (Jesus Christ) we … have access to the Father by one Spirit” [Ephesians 2:18].

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” [Hebrews 4:16].

“Therefore … since we have confidence … let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith …” [Hebrews 10:19,22].

There is a lot said today about ‘intimacy with God’. Much of it bears very little connection to biblical truth. But here in these images of this new relationship we encounter ‘intimacy with God’. Not the intimacy of equality. Not the intimacy of a shared identity. But the intimacy of a young child with its parent: an intimacy in which we know that without God we are nothing and we are nobody, we are weak and we are helpless … but that with God we are his dearly loved children, we are his precious ‘lambs’ carried close to his heart, we are secure and we are at peace in the shadow of his wings, and there, in this relationship of deep contentment with God, we sing for joy.

And there also, in this new relationship, in this ‘intimacy’, having paid so dearly to bring us back to himself through the death of Jesus Christ, God takes great delight in us, God quiets us with his love, God rejoices over us with singing [Zephaniah 3:17].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012