How do we approach God?

What is the most memorable plane landing you’ve had?

I don’t’ really have any exciting travel stories. However, I remember flying to one of the islands in the Whitsundays where the runway is at water level. As you approach the runway, it seems as though the pilot is going to land on the water. Just a little lower and we’d get a little wet.

Our approach really matters. Whether it’s the way you approach a project at school, or the way you approach training for a sport, or a pilot approaches a runway. The approach really makes all the difference between something working out well or not. The same is true for how we approach God.

How should we approach God?

One possible way is to approach God is to think of God as someone we need to appease or to make happy. Many people approach him with their good gifts, sacrifices, their good behaviour, to keep him happy with them. It’s a functional works based religion. Look at what I’ve done, Lord, and so bless me. That’s the approach of many people.

Another possible way to approach God is to view him as so approachable that he’s like a mate. Rather than infinitely holy, many would view God as someone at our beck and call. Sometimes people approach God like he’s a cosmic power that we only go to help us out of our messes. Many people have a relaxed and casual approach toward God.

But in Mark 7 we see another way, one we need to learn from.

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Jesus is approached by someone, who by rights, had no ‘in’ with God. She’s an outsider in every possible way. Yet, Jesus is right there. And she approaches him with a humble, yet gutsy, faith. Crumbs from the Table, Lord, that’s all I want!

It’s a picture of humble confidence. Not presuming anything, yet nonetheless going to Jesus because he has what she needs. It’s an approach of trust and boldness in going to the one who is gracious and sovereign. And for her approach, she receives abundant mercy.

As Thomas Cranmer wrote in this prayer many years ago:

We do not presume to come to this your table, O merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your abundant and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up
the crumbs under your table;
but you are the same Lord
whose character is always to have mercy.
Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord,
so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body,
and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.  Amen.

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