Friday, June 15, 2012

A few thoughts on Fear

"What is the First Commandment?"  "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
"What does this mean?"  "We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things."

I have had a slight change in how I teach the 10 commandments.  And it deals with fear.  That "we should fear and love God" can be problematic seeming on occasion -- we don't want to tell folks that they should "fear" God.  It makes God sound scary and mean.

Now, on one hand... well, if you mess with God, He IS scary.  This is C.S. Lewis' whole "not a tame lion" idea -- God is not tame, and if you mess with Him... that's bad.

On the other hand, I tended to emphasize more the idea of "fear" as respecting the power of God - of being aware of God's power and acting accordingly.  Like one might fear a gun -- not that you hide in terror from it, but rather that you treat it properly and don't play around with it.

I think I have come upon a new angle... one that I like even more.  And it does key off of the first commandment.  We are to fear God above all things.

So, what else do you fear?

Do you fear your friends mocking you, so you join in on their wicked reindeer games?  Fear God more than your friends' disdain.

Do you fear a lack and so horde your goods instead of serving your neighbor?  Fear God more than your future.

Do you fear being alone, and so engage in debauchery?  Fear God more than this.

And what's nice about this is that there is a strong Law reason and a strong Gospel reason for this.

1.  Law - you think your friends are rough, or poverty, or a long lonely night -- try God's wrath.  Fear God.

2.  Gospel - you think your friends are rough, or poverty, or the long lonely night -- Your Heavenly Father, who is stronger than all these, has promised to provide for you simply out of His Fatherly goodness.  Christ Jesus your Lord has defeated this fallen world, and in His name life everlasting with all the company of heaven is yours, even if the world tries to tell you otherwise.  The Holy Spirit has called you away from these things and brought you into God's Kingdom -- do you think disdain or poverty or isolation will be so strong as to dislodge out of the Spirit's care?

Why worry, why fear the small things.  There is One to fear above all others -- and He is for you, He is the Stronger man who rescues you, and He holds the field forever.  Fear Him above all things - that is, don't pretend that Satan's petty ploys are actually stronger than God.

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