Friday, February 24, 2012

Fearing God and nothing else: 3rd day of Lent

So now O Israel what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well-being. – Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Many people find it disturbing that we are called to fear God. If the LORD is supposed to be a God of love, than why are we commanded to fear? “Fear” is a very negative concept. We have classes and therapist to help us overcome our fear, and rightfully so. Fear is an idea that completely overtakes someone. We often look down on someone who is often afraid. We encourage people to conquer fear. This is where the commandment to “fear the LORD your God” comes in. God cannot be conquered like fear. God is the all powerful creator, sustainer, beginning and end. In God’s hands are the brightly burning stars, the massive planets and galaxies, the known and unknown. God is unconquerable, and uncontrollable, this should elicit some fear.

Even though we read that the LORD is gracious, loving, and compassionate, we still read that God is justice, and powerful, and if ever we find ourselves on this side of the grave in the Almighty’s presence, we would be afraid. The command to fear the LORD is a command to recognize the intimidating unmatched power of God.

People who work with fire or dangerous animals often will say that you need to have a healthy fear of the fire/animal. Without a healthy fear you will surely get burned or bitten. God is potentially even more dangerous than a fire or animal because while those things can take a life, scripture tells us that only God can take our soul (Matthew 10:28).

This command to fear is difficult because so few people today are raised with loving fathers. My dad loves me, and I surely know this, but even to this day I still fear him. Not that I shake in my boots whenever I am in his presence, but I know if I do something that greatly displeases him there may be great consequences.

Why do our fathers get mad when we do something that displeases him? Is it because they want us to blindly follow them like mindless drones? Is it because they want us to become slaves to their ideals and whims? No, our loving fathers get mad, and we become afraid when we are disobedient because our fathers want the best for us. God is the same way.

We are told that fearing the LORD and obeying God is for our benefit, so that life would go well for us. God gives us commands to follow not for some arbitrary test, but so that life would be good for us. We have a God who wants life to go well, and gives us the steps to accomplish this! God is certainly good!

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