2002-01-17 - Fear God
1 Peter 2:17 Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. (NAS)
What might it mean to fear God? Well, it could mean a lot of things.
Peter is writing to believers. So, do we as believers have to cower in fear before the Lord? We are told to come before his throne boldly for His mercy and grace (Heb 4:16). In that regard it seems we do not have to wither and faint with terror as we approach God, even when we are in need of His forgiveness. Paul struggled with his sinful heart daily and lamented to God that he did the things he hated rather than the things he wanted to do. (Rom 7:15). If Paul struggled, I should also expect to struggle; and I do! I am nothing special. I put my pants on one leg at a time. I get tired. If you cut me I bleed. I am just like you - mortal, struggling and willful. I really hope that encourages you, most especially where Paul is concerned. This man wrote the lion's share of the New Testament, and he fought with His old man, his sinful nature, every day. The truth is the more you understand the truth of God, the more you see your own heart for what it truly is, the more you know you must rely on Christ for everything.
Do we respect God when we say we fear Him? We should respect his authority, of course. In much the same way a child respects a parent, we chafe against the things we don't like. Or we struggle willfully to do the things we want to do. Yet, in the end we know without a doubt that Jesus died for us because there was no other way to save us. He gave in the ultimate sense out of love for His fallen creatures. In the end, we even know that He is right. And, like Paul, we struggle between our heart and our mind - between our will and the Holy Spirit Who calls to us to follow the Master. But this is more than respect as in "All Rise..." when a judge enters the room. This would be "All Kneel." Very different - much more authoritative than we are used to thinking. And at the same time this Judge and King has our very best interests at heart.
It is a struggle for me in the very same way you struggle. It seems when I finally get to the end of my struggle with something and I cave in and admit that He was right all along, it is a relief rather than a defeat. In knowing the Lord loves us, knowing we are able to come to Him with anything at all. Knowing that, if we come to Him with a true heart He will not reject us, He is completely trustworthy. Knowing that Jesus gave up the splendor of Heaven to come to earth, put on this wounded flesh and allowed us to abuse Him and ultimately die in our place, there is no need for fear in the sense of terror in the face of such powerful compassion. We are free to ask whatever we will that is in line with His will and purpose for our lives. Paul's reaction to all of this was one of joy.
To begin to understand the incredible power of God, and His truth is the gateway to understanding that life without God is terrifying. The heart of humble gratitude for the salvation and peace of mind that someone who knows Jesus Christ as Lord, is enough to overcome any heartache or any wound - physical or emotional. It may not be instantaneous and it may require the covering of compassionate friends and loved ones. It may not even be completed before we leave this life. But to know this humble, thankful spirit and rejoice because of it is one way to fear God.
Grace & Peace,