If you take a trip to China and need to blow your nose, make sure you don't put your handkerchief back in your pocket--it is considered vulgar. In America we are taught to "look someone in the eyes." Not a good idea in the Philippines; it could be mistaken for a challenge. And if you are in India be very careful what you do with your feet. Pointing a foot or a shoe at someone is an insult. Aren't you glad you are not a traveling diplomat? "Protocol" is the word we use to describe the way we treat different people at different times. Sure, there are special protocols reserved for foreign dignitaries, but there is a way to approach a teacher, a police officer (especially if the officer has a blue light flashing on top of the patrol car), a town mayor, the governor, or the President. Thinking about protocol got me thinking about God. What is the protocol when we face God? Isaiah trembled (Isaiah 6), the disciples were speechless (Matthew 17), and John fell down at his feet like a dead man (Revelation 1). How should I approach the Almighty? Proverbs gives us a clue.
"My child, how I will rejoice if you become wise. Yes, my heart will thrill when you speak what is right and just. Don't envy sinners, but always continue to fear the LORD. For surely you have a future ahead of you; your hope will not be disappointed." (Proverbs 23:15-18 NLT)
Isaiah saw God's incomparable holiness--a perfection that made his best efforts utterly worthless. The disciples were stunned by Jesus' matchless glory--a dazzling splendor that left them speechless. John was overcome by a vision of Jesus so spectacular, all earthly powers paled in comparison. Isaiah, the disciples, and John all felt the sense of wonder and reverential respect the Bible calls "fearing God."
"Fearing God" doesn't mean I shudder every time his name is mentioned. It is not always a call to cower, or cringe, or cry out in anguish. It is, however, a healthy respect for God--for his reputation, his awesome power, his right to the title deed of that little piece of dirt I call Earth, and that often untamed wilderness that I call my heart. Fearing God is acknowledging his blessings before a meal, taking time to worship him on Sunday or bowing a knee when I pray. It is the way I think about God, talk about him, and live for him. Fearing God is the protocol of the believer.
FOCAL POINT: Today, you will probably shake someone's hand. It is a greeting protocol. Let that interaction be your reminder of the protocol you owe God.
Copyright © 2009 Tommy Kiedis