I have said often (and hopefully loudly) lately via Facebook that the biggest issue we have as a country, as a people, as Christians, and as individuals, is a lack of FEAR of God.
Would any of us, singularly or collectively, make some of the silly, stupid, sinful, and/or blasphemous mistakes we make if we truly feared an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God? Would we as a country not repent and turn from things we have allowed and accepted as the supposed "norm" if we knew God could do the same to us that He did to Babylon, to Sodom and Gomorrah, to Israel? And not that we just "know" it casually like, "oh sure, that COULD happen, but God is a God of love, he wouldn't punish us," as if God's primary attribute was singularly love, and no other trait.
And then, would we as individuals let our thoughts be so random, so spacial, so unfocused if we REALLY believed there was a God who not only knew our every thought, but would one day judge them? Do we really believe in the true definition of wisdom? Or better yet, do we really believe that God will keep His word?
Well, what does God say is the sum of all wisdom, as well as what He will do to both believers and unbelievers alike?
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil"(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NKJV)
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever." (Psalms 111:10 NKJV)
"Wait a minute. We are to fear God, not Jesus. He is meek, mild, humble, and kind to everyone. He is love!"
Be careful of blasphemy against Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who is His witness.
1) Jesus IS God, and fear of Him is not only as appropriate as fear of the Father, but even MORE so as Jesus is God's appointed Judge and Executioner of His divine will! It isn't as if Jesus and God have different motivations, as if one is the condemner and one is the savior; God sent the Son to save sinners, in accordance to His will and the fullness of time. No, Jesus and God are not adversaries; Jesus is in perfect league with the Father, both as Judge and as Pardoner.
No, because of Jesus' divine nature, He is not only worthy of our worship, but He is also worthy of our fear. The best example of this is in Mark, where Jesus calms the sea. Look at the story:
"On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:35-41 NKJV)
His act of power changes the disciples' attitudes toward Him. Even in the midst of providing safety for His disciples, in rescuing them danger, and caring for them, He shows His command over creation. This was the man they had traveled with for months! They knew Him intimately and personally in a way we can't right now. They saw Him heal people of illnesses and speak powerful words! So you would expect His disciples to expect this kind of thing to happen. but what was the disciples' response?
Instead of seeking His help, they cowered in fear, because He was able to stop nature in its tracks. Their fear switched from that of the creation, to that of the Creator! This is the Jesus we see, and our reaction should be the same - reverent, worshipful fear!
2) Jesus came into the world not to judge the world (John 3:17), but is returning a second time specifically to judge. And while Christians won't have to face the great white throne judgement, we still must give an account for our faithfulness to His word and for our thoughts, actions, etc.. (See reference from Ecclesiastes above.) While our salvation is secured, and our destination predestined from all eternity, we still need to seek to glorify Him and make His name known all over the world.
Reverent fear (fear of His displeasure, His disappointment, His disfavor, and fear of NOT getting His blessings, His joy, His peace, etc.) should motivate us to desire Him, make Him our all, satisfy ourselves by experiencing His glory, and growing in our faith and obedience. As Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15 NKJV)
We prove our love, and experience His love by obeying Him and following close behind Him as He leads. To channel Piper for a moment, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
3) As the passage from the Psalms above shows, true worship always begins with a thorough fear of God. Why should we worship a god who does not inspire awe, amazement, and a sense of the supernatural? Why would we want to?
No, our God is a God who created the stars as a side job, who formed the sun and places our world just close enough to not burn up but not too far away to freeze. He is the God who created the atoms and holds them together so they can form molecules so they can form the cells which make your body work. He had the power to die and forgive all sin, and to raise Himself from the dead, sealing salvation and showing the efficacy of the sacrifice! He is RISEN and sits as the KING of KINGS. He is not a weak God, but a POWERFUL God!
"All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:15-18 NKJV)
No, our God is AMAZING! He is ETERNAL; He has ALWAYS existed; He is TOTALLY sovereign over all creation; He is pure, untainted LOVE; He knows PERFECT justice; He is PURE with no sin at all; He is RIGHTEOUS and is HOLY, HOLY, HOLY!
THAT is a God who I can happily, joyfully, and passionately fear! And through that fear, worship, adore, glorify forever! May you do the same thing today and everyday!
Image credit: mirc3a / 123RF Stock Photo
Darin is the college/career minister for Bethel Baptist Church in Lonedell, MO. He is looking for his first pastorate and, of course, any opportunity to preach the Word. He can be reached at email@example.com.