I arrived at work, entered the lobby and realized I’d left my badge at home. The badge grants me access. It’s a sign of relationship. Only people with established relationship enter: employees, new hire candidates, vendors, contractors.
No badge. No entry.
Controlled access is a standard security measure. We routinely swipe badges or cards to enter buildings, swipe again to enter elevators.
We respect controlled access at work. But when it comes to God, some people seem to think anyone can march into the presence of a holy God and get their prayers answered.
At least that’s the impression I got from a young Brit on Facebook. He posted a discussion about the existence of God and invited opinions. It turned out to be an excuse for a diatribe against God.
I replied that I believe God “is” and that He can be known. He promptly replied: “bullsh*t!” And he didn’t use an asterisk.
In the ensuing conversation, he accused me of being brain-washed, compared belief in God to a brain virus and offered so-called proof that God is a myth: he had prayed and God had not answered. “You might as well be talking to a vase.”
I get it. He knocked at God’s door and believes God ignored him. Access denied. I think he wanted, still wants, to believe. He is hurt, angry, disappointed.
I say here what that wounded soul wasn’t willing to hear. Just because somebody prays doesn’t obligate God to answer. There is no access without relationship. And God knows our hearts, whether we want a relationship or we just want what we want.
Relationship starts with belief. Those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) Scripture says of Christ, “through Him you believe in God” (1 Peter 1:21)
God loves the world, and He has established the way the world gets access to Him. Jesus is the Way. (John 14:6)
God has protocol. In Old Testament times, one guy, a priest, could enter into the Holy of Holies one time a year to offer sacrifices for sin, his and the people’s.
One guy, one day a year. (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16)
If that guy didn’t come into God’s presence in the prescribed manner, he dropped dead and had to be pulled out. God didn’t allow anyone to come get him. That, beloved, is controlled access.
In New Testament times, Paul writes in the book of Hebrews:
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Who is “us”? The letter to the Hebrews is addressed to brethren, to partakers of Christ, to those to whom the gospel was preached and they believed. Paul is writing to members of the family of God.
To have access, we have to have relationship.
Lots of people pray who have no relationship with God. I would not say that God doesn’t respond.
Acts 10 tells of Cornelius, a devout man who feared God, gave to the poor, fasted and prayed. He certainly seems to be seeking God. And God noticed. One day, while Cornelius prayed, an angel appeared and told Cornelius to send for a man who would tell him what he should do.
That man was Peter, who preached the gospel of Christ to Cornelius “that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)
God works on the basis of relationship. To get to Him, we must come through Jesus. He alone restores access.