Originally published Thursday, 26 May 2016.
The other day, I read a blog from John Bevere speaking of when he visited a prominent evangelist in prison. He asked the man a question, “When did you fall out of love with Jesus.” The man’s answer was surprising and gave me something to ponder. My jaw actually dropped when I read his response. He said, “I didn’t. I loved Jesus, but I didn’t fear Him.”
Oswald Chambers had this to say, “The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
I can’t shake this topic. It intrigues me because fearing God seems to be what I would call, “The forgotten command.” When people think God they often think love, but do they ever think fear? An honest answer regarding my life: no. I don’t think about fearing the Lord. I know I’m supposed to, but it’s not on my mind nearly as often as the fuzzy feel good thoughts like love, hope, and freedom. After much contemplation, I don’t believe true love, hope, or freedom comes until we learn to fear Him. Ouch! I know; I didn’t like saying that any more than you liked hearing it.
When we think of fear it seems to reawaken memories of pain and heartache. We tremble at the thought of what we are enduring right at this very moment. The word of God communicates, “Do not fear!” It continues to remind us somewhere around 365 times. And, on the other hand, the word of God also tells us to fear God.
Here’s how I imagine it: We are settled right smack in the middle of modernity. The blip of one single life registers on radar as the tiniest dot imaginable. Unless we reach some sort of celebrity status dazzling the whole world with glitz and glamour, our tiny dot doesn’t even blink. Those of us normal people are merely numbers for population stats and are practically unidentifiable to everyone except those in our own tightly knit circles and communities. (Hey, I thought this post was going to encourage me? Hold on, friend, it’s coming!)
So, located in the middle of modernity, on the map of tiny existences, many of the little human blips have somehow decided to pick and choose what they want to receive from the Bible. They’ve decided to take it in part rather than whole. People want to feel good because there’s so much pain and fear over situations that are uncontrollable. And, to submit to the God who created all would mean we need to fear His hand because choosing to serve God means recognizing His strength and reach. Fearing the power of His hand means denying our flesh. Based on sin nature and the human condition, it’s the hardest part of Christianity. When we choose to say hello to Jesus we are saying goodbye to controlling our own lives. Sometimes that means giving up desires. Double ouch! (It’s going to get better; I promise!)
And, let’s not forget this curveball: the word tells us God is love. (See 1 John 4:8) This means to fear Him would mean fearing love. In the reality of modern society, that seems like a complete oxymoron. But here’s the thing: we’re a messed up society. We’ve somehow adopted faith in what we see rather than what we can’t see, we’ve reinvented our own definition of love, and we roll out the red carpet for feelings rather than faith. Now, if you ask me, that’s the oxymoron! There are women in counseling all over this world because they don’t see their worth. They fear love. When another finally sees their heart and worth, wanting to cover them in love, they run because they don’t know how to accept it. Why? because they don’t know who they were created to be. They don’t understand agape love, which is the love of God. They have faith in what they see when looking in the mirror, and even worse, what they feel when looking in that giant piece of glass rather than faith in the Holy Spirit meant to dwell inside them. To get past what we see on the outside, requires seeing agape love on the inside. Love that only comes from believing in a God who sent His Son to die, rise again, and ascend to the right hand of His Father until the second coming. It’s derived in faith. Through eyes of faith we can all learn to see it. It’s a process. All of us who reject fearing God face the same issues. We run away rather than accept rescue. We’ve all been there.
When we recognize the power of the Holy Spirit inside us, our outlook changes and we understand our blips on the map are on purpose. And to God, every blip blinks. In fact, they flash bright red. He can’t forget we exist. He created us, and the God who designed us leaves nothing He creates!!! (See, I told you this was going to get better!)
The Bible tells us He’s mindful of us. (See Psalm 115) He knows we’re here because He’s right here with us. When we lose our healthy fear in a God who holds the universe, then we begin to fear everything else. Perfect love casts our fear! (See 1 John 4:18) Oswald Chambers was right! We are human; we can control nothing. But this giant God of ours who hears and sees everything, well, He controls it all. He is sovereign.
I understand this opens the door for questions such as, “Why do bad things happen to good, godly people if He, in fact, controls it all?” Well, without writing a fifty page theological paper for you, the answer is sin. We’ve been battling the choices of Adam and Eve ever since they took the first bite. Nothing here on earth will be perfect until we reach the perfect world yet to come: heaven.
Until then, consider this:
- God knows who you are, so fear Him! (See Psalm 128)
- God sees you, so choose to see His love living inside you! (See Psalm 139)
- Don’t allow the power of over-thinking your life and feelings lead to confusion and change your perspective on Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 14:33)
To fear God doesn’t mean we are trembling in a corner somewhere afraid of His hand. It means welcoming conviction, which helps our choices align with His word. It means accepting the power of who He is and trusting His great love to cover everything else. It means having faith in the God who lives inside us, allowing His love to flow grace over every imperfection so we can welcome love from others. It means never wanting to be separated from Him! Ever!
Faith in God overrules every negative feeling regarding who you are created to become! (Tweet that)
John Bevere summed it up this way, “The fear of the Lord isn’t being afraid of God. On the contrary, it’s loving Him so much that you are afraid to be away from Him.” I highly recommend reading his full article here.
What would happen if we lived in a world where everyone had a healthy fear of God? Hmmm food for thought.