Fear God?

Blog #52 March 22, 2023

We would like to believe that our walk with God proceeds along an uncomplicated path of trials and temptations, then solutions with obvious and attainable goals. Would it surprise you to find out that on our journey from the ways of man to the glories of God we will meet problems that shouldn't be problems and touted solutions that really only make the problems worse. In my journey the much talked about "Fear of God" has caused me confusion and more than a little anguish. 

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

In the beginning I had no problem accepting without reservation the credo offered by Solomon in Ecclesiastes. The fear of God was a good thing, wasn't it? It made choices easy. Condemnation was death, mercy was life, and God had control of both of them. So if God said once a month we share wine and bread; once a month you shared wine and bread. That's easy, peasy. Bring on the ritual. For the sake of my place in Heaven, I could handle it. This fear thing with God was no different than my connection to the Police department, OSHA, and every other supervisory authority in my life. I had learned to live by their rules, preform their rituals, and still have fun with my life. About 30 years ago I read again Proverbs 1:7 and it stirred in me an understanding that truly changed my life. 

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

It finally dawned on me that for all my life I had considered the fear of the Lord as a destination instead of just a place I visit on my walk with God. I finally grasped the idea that for all my life I had failed to seek or pursue growth in my relationship with God. I was sitting around goofing off, while God's faithful were laboring with God and accomplishing something I wanted but had no idea existed. Truth be told, I found myself afraid of anything beyond the rituals and traditions I knew. They brought me an assurance and comfort I didn't want to lose. What if I could not live my life in a way that pleased Him? According to what I had been taught, an unhappy God meant death and that scared me. So for a while I lived under a purposeful veil of ignorance figuring that if I did nothing I was doing nothing wrong. But that too was a brilliant concept that I would later classified as more than wrong. It was just plain dumb.

Revelations 3:15-16
3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou 
wert cold or hot.
3:16 So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.

According to this passage in the eyes of God the act of doing nothing (if that is possible) is in and of itself rebellion. Put another way, God seeks to direct my steps, but I must be walking before He can direct me. Even if I am wandering around lost, He can direct me in the way I should go. He can do nothing for me if I am sitting still except sit there with me and discuss what we might do one day. I had to ask myself, "Am I comfortable with the fact that if I do nothing, nothing will happen? Or, Do I want more?"

DC 58:6d-6f  
58:6d Verily I say, Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.
58:6e And inasmuch as men do good, they shall in nowise lose their reward.
58:6f But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

At that moment I found a severe downside to all of this fear of God. With my fear I had built for myself a safe little cage that I thought I controlled. I was horrified to learn that somewhere, somehow I had given the key to my cage to someone else. I was trapped and could neither move nor act. The only thing I could do is look up and say, "Help me", and He did.
Isaiah 35:4-5
35:4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.
35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

Looking back on all of this turmoil, I have come to realize that in the churches of the world, the fear of God has been over stated and oversold. I mean even King David in his youth realized that fear and God need not be synonymous. In fact God is our salvation from fear.

Psalms 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Early in His ministry, Christ had a chance to teach His disciples the relationship between fear and faith in God.  

Mark 4:30-32 
4:30 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat over into the ship; and he was in the hinder part of the ship asleep on a pillow; and they awoke him, and said unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
4:31 And he arose and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace; be still; and the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
4:32 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?

The concept from the passage above came to my mind one night during a particularity heavy noisy thunderstorm. Between the wind, rain, thunder, and the "Chicken Little" local meteorologist continually telling me "The sky was falling", I was found myself filled with more fear than faith. My humility became a burden too heavy to bear when I realized that I really didn't believe that God was my all-powerful Father. Was my testimony to the world a lie? In the face of fear I was forced to question what it was I didn't believe about God. Was God truly unable to protect me, was He not the omnipotent Father I claimed Him to be, or did I believe He really didn't love me enough to try? When I finally opened my heart to the fullness of all the love and support God offered this intolerable quandary became a time of humble acceptance and important beneficial growth. God really was all I had testified Him to be, and now I really believed it. 
Matthew 11:29-30 
11:29 Then spake Jesus, saying, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
11:30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Later in His ministry Christ was offered the chance to open the hearts of the people to the concept of allowing our love for God to kindle within our hearts the ability to love as He loves. In other words obedience base on love instead of fear.

Matthew 22:36-39
22:36 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
22:37 This is the first and great commandment.
22:38 And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
22:39 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Years later the Apostle Paul offered this same concept to the young Pastor Timothy.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love, and of a sound mind.

Then I found another proof of God's opinion on the matter of love verses fear as voiced by the Apostle Peter. I believe this passage more than any other opened my heart up to the idea that God knows and God cares. Even when we fail, He tells us to be still and be patient. He has complete confidence in our ability to overcome our flaws, and He wants us to join Him in that conviction.

1Peter 5:6-7
5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.
5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Our relationship to God at its best has nothing to do with fear. It has to do with our accepting our life with God as the sanctuary it is meant to be. When we learn to accept the arms of God as our true personal place to hide from the evils of the world, we are beginning to see God, as He wants to be seen.

Psalms 62:5-8
62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
62:6 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be moved.
62:7 In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
62:8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Finally God urged His Apostle John to be forthright and blunt about this "love/fear" thing.

1 John 4:16-18 
4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world.
4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

After many years of fearing God and in that fear holding myself aloof from any real relationship with Him, I began to open my heart to the possibility that I could come to love and be loved by this entity that is the most awesome power in the universe. Through my love for Him I allowed God's ways to be my ways, too. I was suddenly able to do more than just obey God's ways. I was able to support them in the face of the world with as much effort and discipline as it takes to obey and supported my body's commandment to "inhale the good air, and exhale the bad". 

Mosiah 3:3 And also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

This is God's greatest promise to us and out greatest challenge. Can we claim willing obedience if we harbor fear? Can we testify of a loving Father if we are afraid of Him? Can trust and fear live in the same relationship? In our fear can we truthfully claim a need for oneness? 

Psalms 37:3-6 
37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
37:5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 
37:6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

This is how simple, gentle, and profound our relationship with God should be. If our covenant with God is to be a unity of oneness, do you truthfully expect God to fear you?

In my humble opinion,
Ain't gonna happen.


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