Exodus 3:6“Then He said ‘I am the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard this, he hid his face in his hands because he was afraid to look at God”
Psalm 111:10“Reverence for the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. The rewards of wisdom come to all who obey Him.”
Hebrews 10:22“Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting Him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean”
1 John 4:18“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives our fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”
It’s easy to see that to fear a loving God can come across as a little paradoxically confusing. We are told in Proverbs 9:10 that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Does that mean we turn to and follow God out of fear? Does that mean that fear is the driving force of our relationship with God, the primary emotion that keeps us on the ‘right’ path? This confused me for some time until I realised that to fear God is not necessarily to be afraid of Him, but to have a healthy reverence for who He is.
It is easy to be quite flippant, lazy or even selfish in our approach towards God – to go to God only when we need something, or to be haphazard in serving, following or even praying to Him. The other extreme would be to serve God out of obligation and fear of being punished, falling into the trap of legalistically knit-picking everything we and others do. If this were true, then the Good News that Jesus brings us isn’t really that ‘good’. He promised rest for our souls, to unburden us (Matt 11:28-29). To be clouded with fear of judgement is not what I call being unburdened! I have realised that at the core of a healthy relationship with God there is both a deep reverence and respect for who He is, and a beautiful understanding and embracement of the love and grace that He offers.
Embrace the Truth!
Jesus is our Lord and Creator, as well as our friend and companion. When He died for us, His blood atoned for our sins. In other words, those who trust in Jesus with their lives have no reason to be afraid of punishment from God for their sins, because Jesus took our punishment for us when He died on the cross in our place. Jesus’ incredible act of love has opened the door for us to have an open relationship with our Holy God. If we fully understand and embrace this truth, then we will not be afraid of messing up, but strive to serve God out of love for what He has done for us with reverence/awe/respect for who He is.
As we follow God’s lead, we learn that His ways are best, and bit by bit unlock the beauty of life as He intended us to experience. After all, Jesus promised that in following Him we will experience life to the fullest (John 10:10)! It’s an exciting and at times pleasantly unpredictable road to travel. However to go against God is to walk a path of darkness and solitude – a path that will bring nothing but restlessness, fear and judgement to our souls. It’s unfortunate and tragic when we allow our arrogance and pride to fool ourselves into believing that this path is best for us.
What is your attitude towards God?
Are you lazy and disrespectful in how you serve Him? Do you treat Him as just another part of your life instead of being the foundation? Let’s allow Jesus to change our hearts, so that we serve Him out of love and appreciation for what He has done, and with respect and awe for who He is.
Those who go against God have good reason to be afraid of the judgment and punishment that awaits them. But for those who faithfully turn to and follow Jesus, accepting His gift of life, the burden of fear, guilt and loneliness is lifted and replaced by the liberating, beautiful relationship and hope we have with our Lord.