Saturday, August 04, 2007

Our Proper Fear of God

I'm currently reading one of Piper's new books "What Jesus Demands from the World". Piper took a several-month sabbatical to study every command of Jesus, and compile them into short 5-6 page chapters describing their implications for us. Great book!

One chapter titled, "Fear Him Who Can Destroy both Soul and Body in Hell" deals with the often confusing "Fear God" command, and he explains it in a different way than I've ever thought of. I've always thought that the best way to describe this fear of God is to say that we must have great reverence for Him, rather than being afraid of Him. It's absolutely true that we must have an awe or reverence of God and His greatness. However, this way of thinking is actually minimizing the wrath of God so that we can understand and feel love and peace from Him more easily. Piper argues that "our peace does not come from our removing the God of wrath from our thinking, but from His removing His wrath from us... There is a real fear of Him that can coexist with sweet peace and trust in Him." Jesus did say, "Fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast in hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" (Luke 12:5).

I think that in order for me to feel loved by God and not feel afraid of Him, I have modified my thinking of who He is, sort of creating my own acceptable picture of a loving, forgiving, reverence-deserving God. In doing so, I have neglected to grasp His wrath, His power to conquer, His necessary punishment of those who turn their backs on His gifts. It is possible to have a holy, proper fear of God, which has a great effect on us: "It wakens us to our need for help [once we understand the depth and weight and seriousness of our sin] and points us to the all-sufficient Redeemer, Jesus." We can have a true fear of God and His wrath and power and punishment, but we are comforted by the fact that we have been ransomed from it, that we are free from it, that we've been called out of darkness and into His Marvelous Light, which is so freeing, and peace-bringing.

What a great realization! I hope that my (and your) views of God are becoming more correct and true and in line with His Word. Creating our own picture of God is displeasing to Him, as it modifies our actions and thoughts in improper ways. Let us pray for discernment and wisdom and clarity of thought, so that we know the One true God.

Please... your thoughts?

1 comment:

LlBailey said...

That sounds like a great book. I have been thinking about what it means to fear God for several months now, there is no doubt in my mind that we are commanded to fear Him. But what it means is indeed a very tricky question. I appreciate your thoughts.