Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Monday, June 22, 2015

When is Fear Not Fear?

I was driving down a rural Colorado road and ended up behind a crude oil tanker with Proverbs 9:10 scrawled in the grime on the back of the tank. I love that verse,
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
At that particular moment my main fear was picking up a rock chip or the main dump gate on the tank letting go giving my car a lube job the likes of which would be fabled in legend and song. I realized I have much more to fear from the Lord than from a potentially leaky old tank truck. If I were a new age follower of wildly popular prosperity "preaching" I would know that God wouldn't let something like that happen to me, he's my friend. I'm cool, my car is cool, and God digs us both because He is love and He loves me and nothing else matters to Him. There's a lot of people out there that actually think like that. I see quite often see things splattered across the internet like this:

But in order for us to trust this experience of God as friend, we must move beyond our feelings of fear of God. The teaching that most older Christians received about God induced fear of God rather than the feelings invoked by the term friend. I still meet more people who fear God rather than feel warm and friendly toward God. (Source)
Now (besides Proverbs 9:10) where would a Christian get the crazy idea that God should be feared?
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
"And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'" (Job 28:28)
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:9)
"If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night." ( Genesis 31:42)
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:11) 
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; (Philippians 2:12)
 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)
Oh. That's where.

To be fair, the author of the previous quote that says fearing God is a bad thing, William A. Barry, is a Jesuit Priest so he's probably well versed in the bible as he is in Catholic tradition and Ignatian spirituality. So why does he contradict the bible? And he's not alone, false teachers are out there teaching us that Jesus is our buddy and God loves us because He is not capable of doing anything except loving us.

And there's absolutely nothing in God's word that says He may protect a nonbeliever just because his or her parents are believers. Jesus is going to separate the sheep from the goats and he's not going to be asking who these goats are related to. We Christians love to walk around saying "Hate the sin, love the sinner", that's a quote from a pagan who hated Christians (Gandhi). Proverbs 6:16-19 tells us that God doesn't play that game. He's not real happy with sinners and it's only his grace and love for those of us who love Him that protects us in our sinfulness from His wrath.

Like many other false teachings, teaching that God is Nothing To Be Feared breeds spiritual complacency and laziness. Teaching that God is Nothing To Be Feared downsizes God to a warm fuzzy that lives on a cloud and has a pet unicorn. Teaching that God is Nothing To Be Feared allows people who know better to allow rebellion against God to happen right under their noses. Teaching that God is Nothing To Be Feared breeds an ignorance of the consequences of turning your back on Him.

Yes, no one can snatch us from His hand, but there's nothing in the bible that says you can't jump out of His hand. The bible is full of exhortations on maintaining your faith, so that nonsense "I'm saved so I can do what ever I want" is self delusion brought on by the teaching that God is Nothing To Be Feared.

God is Everything To Be Feared. We are to reverence Him, respect Him, acknowledging how great God is and submit to his rulership. God is gracious but if we are in rebellion and lose our view of fear he will judge. The fear of God, is having an awesome reverence that can only come from knowing Him by experiencing His presence and seeing His work in our lives. When God's awesome holiness is understood one cannot help react in the fear of God.

I'm not talking about the fear that shrieks in abject terror. I'm talking about fear that breeds respect and awe of the utterly powerful. Anyone who has ever rode the Maid of the Mist to the base of Niagara Falls has a little idea of what kind of fear I'm talking about. The boat is pitching, the roar of the falls fills your ears, the very air is vibrating from the thunder of the water pounding on the rocks. As the boat rises and drops you feel that at any moment you're going to be crushed. 

The power of the thundering water is overwhelming and your only safety is to stay in the boat. This isn't thoughtless gibbering fear, this is smart fear, smart meaning you realize that 1.2000,000 lbs of water smashing into the rocks every second of every minute won't care if you're in the way. However that raw show of tremendous power is simply water falling off a cliff and landing on a rock. If you're in awe of water splashing on a rock, think of the power and majesty of God who made that water, and those rocks, and the gravity they're subject to, and the planet they're on, and the universe they're in. When we finally stand before God, anyone that bought into the God Is Nothing To Be Feared notion is going to be in for quite a shock

God loves us, not as a lover or as a pal, but much, much more deeply - as a parent. Parents know that sometimes hard lessons need to be learned, and a very good parent knows that being the best friend to a 5 year old is a relationship that is best left to another 5 year old. A parent needs to be a parent: teaching, guiding, providing, and when needed, rebuking. 

Yes, God understands that we need to have friends, that's why Jesus came to die for our sins. Jesus we can befriend, but God the Father has told us specifically that we are to fear Him, and I'm pretty sure when we finally meet Him we will know exactly why
And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” (Revelation 19:5)

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