Friday, June 4, 2010

Fearing God

One of the questions I hear a lot is: How am I suppose to love God and fear Him at the same time? Those two elements do seem somewhat contradictory. But, I think that's due to the fact that many of us grew up under a rather impious, or irreverent, understanding of fear. Going back to the whole "dad v. DAD" thing, I feared my father, but not out of respect, or reverence. I feared him because I understood what would happen if he got angry. Chan touches on this as well:

"If I could pick one word to describe my feelings about God in those first years of being a Christian, it would be fear. Basically, any versus that describe His overwhelming greatness or His wrath were easy for me to relate to because I feared my own father." p.57

So how do we create a disconnect between two completely different examples of fear? For me, I have to start with what fearing God isn't... or by default, what fearing my father meant. The times when I truly feared my father were when he was out of control: when he drank too much, when he was outraged by someone else's actions (or his own), when he wasn't in control. My fear was anticipation of the fallout. And this is where the difference in fearing God is so profound. God doesn't lose control. He's the one thing that is always constant, always in control.

So, then what is fearing God? As an adult, I find that the things I fear share a common thread. Whether because of ignorance or naivtey, I fear things I can't understand, let alone explain. God definitely falls into that category. With God, fear is not synonymous with terror. It's about marveling at how incredible and powerful He is... excepting the fact that we will never understand Him. We cannot put Him in a box. We cannot change Him to fit into our lives. We are the ones that must change... and through Him we are compelled to change. I think back to all the times in my life when I changed something about myself, with hopes of being accepted by someone else...especially my father. But, at no time, did those changes make me a better person... not until those changes came as a result of my faith in Christ.

So, yes, I fear God. I've read the Bible...several times. I've seen what God has done, knowing that it's only a glimpse of what He is capable of. But it's so much more than that. Chan sums it up well when he says the following:

"Fear is no longer the word I use to describe how I feel about God. Now I use words like reverent intimacy. I still fear God, and I pray that I always will. The Bible emphasizes the importance of fearing God. As we talked about in Chapter 1, our culture severely lacks the fear of God, and many of us are plagued with amnesia. But for a long time, I narrowly focused on His fearsomeness to the exclusion of His great and abounding love." p. 57.
I came across this song the other day. It's not considered a Christian song, but I can't help to think of God when I hear it. This past Sunday, a dear friend of mine gave the communion address to our church. She spoke about a flower that bloomed at her house, which doesn't seem like a big deal until you learn that the flower sprouted between her house and a concrete slab. Under the most impossible of conditions, it flourished. The simple, delicate beauty of a flower amidst the harsh, cold, concrete reality of the world. A long time ago, I put my own spin on a pretty popular phrase. Now it's my motto in life:
With Christ, NOTHING is impossible... just mathematically improbable.
Hope you enjoy the song!

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