I have been working through John Stott’s The Cross of Christ and his words that follow caused me to think deeply about the way we approach God.
The kind of God who appeals to most people today would be easygoing in his tolerance of our offenses. He would be gentle, kind, accommodating, and would have no violent reactions. Unhappily, even in the church we seem to have lost the vision of the majesty of God. There is much shallowness and levity among us. Prophets and psalmists would probably say of us that “there is no fear of God before their eyes.” In public worship our habit is to slouch or squat; we do not kneel nowadays, let alone prostrate ourselves in humility before God. It is more characteristic of us to clap our hands with joy than to blush with shame or tears. We asunder up to God to claim his patronage and friendship; it does not occur to us that he might send us away. We need to hear again the apostle Peter’s sobering words: “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives…in reverent fear” (1 Pet 1:17). In other words, if we dare to call our judge our Father, we must beware presuming on him. It must even be said that our evangelical emphasis on the atonement is dangerous if we come to it too quickly. We learn to appreciate the access to God that Christ has won for us only after we have first seen God’s inaccessibility to sinners. We can cry “Hallelujah” with authenticity only after we have first cried “Woe is me, for I am lost.”
When we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely “hell-deserving sinners,” then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.