One dictionary defines the word “protocol” as “the official procedure of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.” In meeting any high ranking dignitary there is an understood etiquette which need to be learned and adopted or else there might be dire consequences.
Allow me to give you an example of protocol as it relates to interaction with the Queen. At Buckingham Palace, in London, should you be given the privilege of an invitation to have an audience with her Majesty, you cannot just walk in to the Palace unannounced. A time and date is scheduled. Bear in mind that it is highly offensive to be late for your meeting.
Before the actual audience takes place, you would be escorted into a room where for several minutes a Palace official will explain correct procedure and protocol. These include the following:
When the Queen enters a room, all in attendance are to stand.
When first meeting the Queen, she should be addressed as “Your Majesty” and then afterwards as “Ma’am.”
If her Majesty is accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, it should be noted that by rank, he is lower than the Queen, and should be addressed as “Your Royal Highness” rather than “Your Majesty.” After this initial greeting he may be addressed as “Sir” and then, when departing as “Your Royal Highness” again.
Should you be eating a meal with the Queen in attendance, when the Queen stops eating, all others should stop eating also.
Regarding shaking hands, you must wait until the Queen extends her hand towards you. You are not to initiate contact (offering a handshake). Definitely, there are to be no hugs, kisses on the cheek or the touching of the shoulder.
In conversation, allow her Majesty to initiate any conversation with you.
Never, for any reason, turn your back on the Queen.
If this is the protocol for interaction with an earthly ruler, what does the Bible say regarding protocol for God Himself, the King of kings and Lord of lords?
God could have stipulated that we come with a plate of exotic fruit found only on a tree in the Amazon jungle, making an audience with Him extremely difficult for most of the world’s population. He could have requested that we bring some measure of gold or silver or precious stone. But He has done no such thing. Instead, here are His instructions, found in Psalm 100:
1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Psalm 95:1-3 says: Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
From these and other scriptures we learn that the correct protocol in approaching God is simply to come by grace alone through faith alone, in His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ alone, with glad and thankful hearts, making a joyful noise, singing His praises.
Selah (stop, think, pause, meditate)