“’I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.’” (Luke 12:4–5, NIV84)
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon tells us repeatedly that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But modern-day Christianity has a problem with fearing God. We want to think of God as loving and compassionate (which He is), but that seems to go against the thought of a God of judgment who should be feared. We do not like the thought of God’s justice, anger, and fury. But the Psalmist said: “Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days so that we might present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:11-12). Although it is all over the Bible, most of us do not properly face this issue. Right into the midst of this philosophical/theological conflict Jesus speaks so clearly it is uncomfortable. He said: “…do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him, who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.”
Jesus says that there might be forces in this world that can go so far as to take your life, but ultimately you and I are accountable to God. We (all humanity) need to understand that our perception of God doesn’t change who He is. It just makes us either right or wrong. To be wrong about God’s words and actions is reason enough to fear God. To be wrong about what happens when we die means that we are not prepared to meet Him in judgment on our/the last day. It is vitally important that we properly fear God. Only then can wisdom begin.
I believe there are two types of fear. The first is stated above. We are creatures of an Almighty Creator. He has every right to expect purity of life and worship from us and to judge us if we are anything less. He has a right to hold us accountable to His Word and to any promises we have made to Him. He demands perfection and judges anything less. The second type of fear is one of holy reverence — that we shudder and are silenced in God’s presence. That like the great men and women of faith, we find ourselves in awe of who God is and what He has done on our behalf. Almighty God has seen fit to place our sins of disobedience upon Jesus so that He might declare us as righteous in His sight. A God who is this great deserves every aspect of fear that we can conjure in our souls. In the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis has a line where one of the kids asks the other about Aslan (God), “Is He safe?” and the other answers, “No, but He is good!” God isn’t safe! He doesn’t fit into our defined categories. He is always more than we can imagine or think. His ways are not ours. His thought are not ours. He is not predictable or manipulated. But He is most assuredly GOOD! He loves us and has redeemed us.
May we, today and every day, have a proper fear of God.