So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
The following is a soft rant. No one has time for a rant- I get it. But this one is overdue. Enjoy…
A fine group of middle schoolers were recently asked if they feared their fathers…they ALL said yes. Subsequently, they were asked if they feared God…they ALL said no. It’s an interesting contrast, but not entirely surprising.
Consider this- these teenagers live a privileged, suburban lifestyle; there is no abuse in their homes. Their dads are seen at games and recitals and whatever else invites their participation. These dads are good people. Very good people.
The thing is- these parents lead their homes. When one child is assaulting another, or criticizing another, they must step in and resolve the conflict. When grades are below average, the amount of time playing Fortnite must be regulated and homework elevated. No one wants to do their chores, so dad must encourage compliance. It’s what parents do. Always. And because these leaders are the ones who manage these life spaces, their kids fear them. Not because they’re afraid of them but because they know dad has the power.
Amazingly (for some anarchists to believe) these kids also cling to their dads. I’ve seen them at church standing next to their dads with their arms around them. I’ve seen them playing basketball with their dads throwing high-fives after a great score. The relationships are honest and loving. Yet, these great kids didn’t hesitate to embrace the word fear regarding these great dads.
Enter the conversation about God.
God is not to be feared. Why? Mostly because we have no idea what the word means in the absence of discipline. We have massaged our thoughts of God to such a romantic level that we have removed a sense of awe and wonder. God isn’t to be feared- He isn’t to be respected. He is to be hugged when we need something and sung about when we like the melody. A current top 20 Christian song has been filling the airwaves with the lyric:
Smile like you just got away with something
Why? ‘Cause you just got away with something
Ever since, ever since grace got you
Only a generation that doesn’t fear God could sing such a song. Think about it- who can look at Jesus hanging on a cross, dying for our sins and smile like we just got away with something? The grace of God can’t cause us to smile like we just got away with something- it must force us to fear God.
The grace of God opens our eyes to see Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father as a lamb who was slain and a lion who was victorious. At this powerful moment, there is nothing less to do than fall on our faces in humility and worship (Rev 4:10).
The grace of God has been trivialized to the point it has erased the fear of God. No more. This can be no more.
We didn’t get away with sin- Jesus took our punishment for us. There is a difference. I realize I’m being a buzzkill here, but when we don’t fear God- we won’t obey Him. After all, why would we? If there is no hell there, why crucify the flesh here? We aren’t being saved from the world, we are saved from hell. Hell is the punishment for sin. Who is the Judge of the punishment? God. When we get this, we will fear Him (Pr 9:10).
1 John 4:17-18
17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
If we keep reading to understand what love is we won’t make the juvenile mistake of neglecting the fear of the Lord.
1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
So, I don’t fear the day of judgment because I fear God. The proof of this is that I obey Him- not perfectly but faithfully.
And when I am imperfect, I don’t smile- rather I come quickly to the throne where I receive mercy and find grace (He 4:16). This isn’t a laughing matter. There is no joy without the fear of the Lord.
The Church started with the Fear of the Lord AND the Comfort of the Holy Spirit. It multiplied. After all- no great leader calls us to do less, be less, go no further.
I’m sure the Father is calling you higher, do you fear Him enough to follow?