“Fear God” was a command I often heard in my dad’s sermons. And I did.
Recently, I uncovered the only recorded sermon I have of my dad’s. I had forgotten what a fireball he was when he preached. Most of my memories are of him as a Southern Methodist preacher. He was strict—almost legalistic. Fearing God—literally, was a part of his theology.
As a child, I took my father’s advice and feared God. Of course, I probably misunderstood the definition of fear at this young age, but I was scared. Scared of committing the wrong sin and having Him annihilate me. Scared I might not make it to heaven after all. Scared I wouldn’t please Him regardless of what I did. A skewed interpretation, but mine nonetheless. And one that didn’t change for a number of years.
The sinful woman’s view of God must have been quite different than the pugnacious religious leader’s. She pranced into their legalistic religious gathering and marched right up to Jesus. Actually, she fell before Him, anointed His feet with her tears and then oil, and dried them with her hair. How bold. To think, she would march right up to the Son of God and fall before Him. Perhaps she understood more about Him than her snobbish peers.
Somewhere along the way, my view of God changed as well. No longer was He a far away deity I couldn’t approach. While I still held a healthy fear of Him—after all, He could snuff out my life by issuing a second long command—I came to understand He wasn’t out to get me. Yes, He had standards, and yes, I was obligated to obey them, but He was after a relationship with me. He wanted me to love Him with all my heart and serve Him consistently.
Fortunately, I avoided the other extreme view of God: that He is like a grandfather and will let me get away with sin. God is a God of discipline, but He is more interested in teaching me than punishing me.
In the person of the Holy Spirit, God is as near as the breath we breathe. He calls us to a holy fear but more so to a loving relationship.
How is your picture of God affecting your journey with Him?
Prayer: Father, may our fear of You lead us to love You wholeheartedly and serve You diligently.
Looking for a wide selection of genres in Christian books at discount prices? Use coupon MWiles for 20% off. Click here to see selections.