To fear or not to fear?
“He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgement has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’”
The Scriptures have a plethora of verses on this topic of fearing God. If you did not fear Him, it could result in deadly punishment. As King Solomon put it, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Solomon would know this! God had given him wisdom beyond any other man. He had everything at his fingertips, from wives, to money, to power, to fame. Yet the one thing he was most renowned for was his wisdom. With having so much, he still recognized the need to fear His God (though he didn’t do that so well as he grew older).
Why does God want us to fear Him? Some doubters would say that is egotistical. As I see it, He IS everything, He made everything, and yet He still wants us to know and love Him as He already knows and loves us. So yes, He certainly deserves our utmost respect!
To fear Him is to do the following: obey, worship and adore, serve, and submit. This “fear” recognizes His position, His authority, His omnipotence and omniscience, and that He is just, right and holy. This is a positive and healthy type of fear.
Let’s see this another way: Rollercoasters. Some people, like me, absolutely love rollercoasters because of the thrill they provide. The outrageous speeds, the slow climb leading to the extreme fall that carries you into those radical curves, twists and turns is an experience like no other. It is a blast! But other people cannot and will not do these rides, mostly because of fear. They are afraid that the ride might break, or they might fall out, or they might throw up, and so on and so on. Those of us that love these rides still have a healthy fear of knowing that because they are mechanical, anything is possible, but not likely to happen. So we continue to enjoy them. Those that hate the rides, avoid them completely, and don’t get to enjoy what we know to be great fun. They are missing out because of their real fear of “what if…”
If someone is not a believer or they haven’t put their trust in the Lord Jesus, then yes, they do need to fear Him with a sense of dread. If they are living their life as their own and do not have that respect and fear of the Living God, then their life will be up for judgment, eternal judgment. The more people don’t fear God, the more evil we as a society become, and the quicker humanity spirals into depravity. If there is no fear of God, then anything among man goes, so who needs a conscience?
“The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”
“…all who hate me love death.”
Our problem today is what Paul wrote about in Romans:
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
On the other hand, if someone is a believer, then this fear is more like being in total awe and wonder of Him, of appreciating every day His mercy and His grace, of complete respect of who He is and what He has done, and being humbled by the thought of how the Light of the World sees and knows you regardless of what you’ve done in the past.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.”
1 John 4:18-19
Without total awe, wonder, terror, dread, reverance, and respect for a perfectly holy, righteous and just Almighty King, we cannot truly appreciate what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did for us on that cross out of love.
This idea of fear is likened to serving an earthly King: if you did not do your job to his satisfaction, you feared his wrath because he could put you in the dungeon, or put you to death. You knew that this king had the power of life or death over you, so you “performed” your duties to the best of your ability, to please that king! If you did a great job, he would let you live, reward you with food, clothing, position, or monetary treasures.
The difference here is that our God, although He will judge us for our deeds, sees us through the lens of Jesus. Accepting His sacrificial love redeems us from that harsh judgement. Serving our Lord as a result will cast out that fear of punishment. Why? Because once we understand and accept the entire story of God’s love, we can live out our lives in the “Fear of God” while recognizing the love of God for us. We will want to worship Him, praise Him, and give Him all the glory, regardless of any circumstances. We will serve our King with gladness!
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!”
Food for thought: When you pray, do you tremble in fear of God, or do you tremble in recognition of who He is?
Fun facts: The top types of fear: social phobias, agoraphobia (open spaces), acrophobia (heights), pteromerhanophobia (flying), claustrophobia (enclosed spaces), arachnophobia (spiders), entomophobia (insects), ophidiophobia (snakes), gynophobia (dogs), astraphobia (storms – my dog had this), trypanophobia (needles).
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Angelic form