I think many of us are being encouraged by many Christian leaders to adopt a much too casual posture and attitude, both physically and spiritually, in our relationship with God. That takes many forms and occurs in many contexts. I will resist entering into a litany of them. Suffice it to say that I believe it is not only not helpful, but detrimental, to our growth into the likeness of Christ.
Fact is, God is God. We had best remember that. Fact is, if we let God be God, then we can receive from Him the most precious of treasures, a relationship that exceeds our lame attempts at intimacy/love, which are insulting familiarity and casualness. A relationship of true intimacy – union. Fully known by Him and fully knowing Him.
If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it. and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible-ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again.
They are still only playing with religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger—according to the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way. Now my third point… I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth— only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.” The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
“No one bound by worldly desires and pleasures is worthy to approach, draw near or minister to You, the King of glory. To serve You is great and awesome even for the heavenly powers. But because of Your ineffable and immeasurable love for us, You became man without alteration or change. You have served as our High Priest, and as Lord of all, and have entrusted to us the celebration of this liturgical sacrifice without the shedding of blood. For You alone, Lord our God, rule over all things in heaven and on earth. You are seated on the throne of the Cherubim, the Lord of the Seraphim and the King of Israel. You alone are holy and dwell among Your saints. You alone are good and ready to hear. Therefore, I implore you, look upon me, Your sinful and unworthy servant, and cleanse my soul and heart from evil consciousness. Enable me by the power of Your Holy Spirit so that, vested with the grace of priesthood, I may stand before Your holy Table and celebrate the mystery of Your holy and pure Body and Your precious Blood. To you I come with bowed head and pray: do not turn Your face away from me or reject me from among Your children, but make me, Your sinful and unworthy servant, worthy to offer to You these gifts. For You, Christ our God, are the Offerer and the Offered, the One who receives and is distributed, and to You we give glory, together with Your eternal Father and Your holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.” The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
Every time we come near God, it is either life or death we are confronted with. It is life if we come to him in the right spirit, and are renewed by him. It is death if we come to him without the spirit of worship and a contrite heart; it is death if we bring pride or arrogance…
It is only with a feeling of fear, of adoration, with the utmost veneration that we can approach this adventure of prayer, and we must live up to it outwardly as completely and precisely as possible. It is not enough to lounge in an armchair, saying: now, I place myself in an act of veneration in the presence of God. We have to realise that if Christ were standing in front of us, we would comport ourselves differently, and we must learn to behave in the presence of the invisible Lord as we would in the presence of the Lord made visible to us.
This implies primarily an attitude of mind and then its reflection upon the body. If Christ was there, before us, and we stood completely transparent to his gaze, in mind as well as in body, we would feel reverence, the fear of God, adoration, or else perhaps terror, but we should not be so easy in our behaviour as we are. The modern world has to a great extent lost the sense of prayer and physical attitudes have become secondary in people’s minds, although they are anything but secondary. We forget that we are not a soul dwelling in a body, but a human being, made up of body and soul, and that we are called, according to St Paul, to glorify God in our spirit and in our body; our bodies as well as our souls are to be called to the glory of the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6: 20). Living Prayer, by Archbishop Anthony
“And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli′jah.’ He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’” (Matthew 17.4-7)
“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Revelation 1.17-18)