After two weeks of silence, I’m back.
I never know if I should apologize or not. On the one hand, it seems appropriate since I haven’t been true to my regular writing habits but on the other hand, I don’t like to assume that people miss it when I skip a week of blogging.
In any case, I console myself with the truth that the Lord is always faithful and dependence placed on Him is never dependence misplaced.
Two weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on the fear of the Lord. I had to smile when I read Emily’s poetry about another kind of fear – the type which is driven out by the truth and knowledge of God. It’s not that I’m trying to agree with everyone to win their favor; I just genuinely affirm her message while maintaining the stance I took a couple of weeks ago. So I thought I’d share a bit more of my thought process and invite you to share yours.
The fear of the Lord is a matter of perspective. We fear other things – snakes, heights, and rejection, sickness and loneliness, to name a few. These fears aren’t necessarily ungrounded. Various things can harm us in various ways and to various extents. But our fears are often out of proportion. They often override our better judgment and dictate the way we act. As Emily said, fear “is reaching out, it wraps around our hearts, its dark, cold fingers searching, grasping[…] to destroy.” Fear controls.
Often our fears are wrong, not because the concerns aren’t real but because they cause us to lose perspective.
We forget the Lord is in control. We forget that, in His unsearchable wisdom, he allows certain hardships and decrees the extent to which they may and may not touch us. Our temporal fears puff themselves up until they obscure our vision of God.
Nothing else we may fear is Lord. The Lord is Lord.
As He was preparing to send the disciples out to Israelite towns to share the gospel, Jesus addressed the topic of fear. I’m not sure if the disciples knew what they were getting into at this point. I’m also not sure whether or not they expected persecution. But Jesus knew what was coming. Among the many things he told them, he said this:
“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
When I was little, I thought Jesus was talking about the devil. But now I know that the Lord has power over even Satan and that He alone has power over the eternal destiny of souls. And whether our final destination is heaven (or the new earth) or hell, all present, worldly fears will one day be rendered irrelevant in the eternality of it. Thus, all other fears ought to submit to our fear of Him.
Now, here’s where it becomes truly incredible. Once a person has demonstrated the appropriate fear of God, then suddenly God turns around and says…
(Francis Chan explains it really well in this video.)
I think particularly of John who saw Jesus in the vision that inspired the Book of Revelation. This is his testimony:
When I saw him [Jesus], I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
The thing is, for those of us who have been redeemed by God, the Judge has become our Savior and Defender. He who is unable to tolerate sin has declared our debt paid. As Paul put it:
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
If God is for us… If the one who we ought most to fear has told us not to fear, then what is there left to fear?
This is where fear and love meet. Doesn’t this just stimulate your delight in the Lord? With a mere mention of love, we’ve barely dipped our toes in the topic, but I know there’s a whole ocean to explore out there.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts about fear and love and how they relate?