Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28,29 ESV)
Almost everyone has their favorite passages of scripture. We tell ourselves we don’t and that our view of God is objective, but that is impossible. We see and define God through the lens of our experience and then often search out portions of scripture to support that view. This is a long way of saying that this is one of those passages which makes us uncomfortable. It doesn’t fit the way most of us would like to define God. What it does is confirm that God doesn’t change. The God of the Old Testament hasn’t changed. Even though Jesus presents us with a different perspective, we must reconcile the loving savior with an awesome holy God.
The writer has been doing everything possible to convince us of the superiority of Jesus and the new covenant. He wants us to be confident in our ability to approach God and build an intimate relationship with him. He wants us to be certain that whatever we’re experiencing is worth the reward that is coming. He wants us to be secure in these things. There is a risk to security and that is our tendency to take our situation and relationships for granted.
I am fortunate to have grown up in a loving family. My father loves God and he loves me. I am his son, and nothing will ever change that. I could be very disrespectful and treat him badly and I’d still be his son. However, I should expect some consequences to come from that disrespect. The consequences might be severe, but just as I remain his son, he continues to be my father. Here is where the comparison breaks down. My father is not God. He was once much stronger than me, but that is no longer the case. When I was 12 I was in awe of what my father could physically do. I wish that were still the case, although I’m encouraged every day by his perseverance in the face of many challenges.
Words fail to describe how much more powerful God is than anyone else. I am also God’s child and his intent is that I grow to be more and more like him. That comes from trusting him and pursuing an intimate relationship with him. All those things are possible because of Jesus. Yet, I must never consider God to be like my earthly father. As much as I love and respect him, my father is not worthy of worship. My heavenly father is worthy of worship and much more. While I am confident he wants me to live in his grace, I must never forget that his grace flows from a purity that cleanses with fire. I must never forget who is King in the kingdom.