Communicating with different cultures can often times be frustrating. Not only do we speak different languages there are nuances and idioms that are difficult to grasp. In my travels I have noticed that most cultures have a dance they perform, they never speak their mind. They are worried about "losing face" and you are always wondering if what they are saying is really what they mean.
Americans have a reputation for saying it like it is, speaking plainly, and just stating the facts. It often comes across as being arrogant. But we don't always say what we mean and we call it "holding it close the vest." We don't speak plainly because we don't trust people with they way we truly feel. As a pastor the elder board was my place of refuge, and so when I was having a difficult time with someone I expressed my frustration and anger with them. What surprised me was that during my end of the year review the issue of my "anger" problem came up. It wasn't that they were concerned, but rather they only spoke to me about it in the context of a review. Needless to say they no longer were a safe place and I never shared my feelings with them again.
Trust, safety, acceptance are all things we are are looking for in the people with whom we confide. When we view God as a judge who is more ready to hand out a sentence then hand out grace we might bow before him in fear but we would never go to him with our deepest anxieties, fears, and pain. And anyway, God is so big, he isn't interested in what I have to say.
Yet, when it comes to a safe place the presence of God is beyond compare. It is the essence of the mystery of the gospel. Because of Christ we don't have to fear God, as Paul told the Romans "there is now no condemnation for those in Christ." He looks at my failures and sees the sacrifice of His Son, he sees my struggles and through Jesus identifies with my sorrow, he hears my cries and knows first hand rejection and pain. Yes, God is a refuge in time of need.
Therefore we have bold, confident, access through faith in Christ. First, we have access. There is no barrier between God and man, the wall of sin is broken, and the curtain torn. We don't have special times, holy words, or sacred places we have to go, God has an open door policy and is ready and willing to see us at any time.
Secondly, we have confidence in our access. There is no peeking around the door hoping that God will not be angry today. He doesn't have emotional swings that cause trepidation in my approach. My sin doesn't cause Him to love me less or my good works to love me more. He is always willing, always ready, and always available. He longs for and expects me to come to Him, and he is never too busy.
Thirdly, we have boldness in our speech. The Greek word used in Ephesians means frankness. It doesn't mean rude or arrogant, but rather matter of fact. We can speak plainly what is on our mind without fear of condemnation, reprisal, or rejection. We can explain our frustration and our hurts, our pain and our sorrow, our struggles and our sin and not worry about negative reviews.
When we are in the presence of a safe place the walls that we have constructed come down and we reveal our true self, and God is not afraid or surprised because He knows us better than we know ourselves. There are a lot of feelings and frustrations that I want to share with my Father, and I know he will listen with a loving ear. I think I will go talk to Him right now. I'm just saying...
Eph. 3:22 "in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him."