January 20, 2017

Is God scary?

"So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)

I’ve often said that the Lord God is the only one who can love and comfort me — and at the same time give me a swift kick in the backside! In this verse, the people walked in fear of Him, but also in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I don’t like His correction, but have learned that He does love me and wants me to be a better person, so I do not cower in fear before Him.

Some people think that to fear God is merely to be in awe of Him in the same way we are in awe of the Grand Canyon, or a mighty waterfall, forgetting that getting too close to either would bring disaster.

Others might consider God their best bud and relate to Him accordingly in casual conversations without any awe attached. Jesus is called a friend of sinners, yet the Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. This fear is a deep and profound reverence and respect. It is knowing the power of God for good but also knowing that it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands . . .

“For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30–31)  . . . . Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28–29)

Yet even those verses are not intended to make God’s people walk around terrified that God will strike us with lightning whenever we step out of line. For me, I am totally aware of the wrath that I deserve, but also the grace that I have received. I’m not to forget His grace, or that He loves me, or take either for granted, nor am I to think that I must earn His favor or work hard to keep it. I cannot do either.

What God’s grace does is change my attitude toward Him. I realize He has saved me for Himself and loves me with an everlasting love. How can I call God my ‘buddy’ without also realizing He is my Savior and the Lord of my life? I belong to Him. He is not my genie in a bottle that I run to only when I need something, but the One I acknowledge has all the power. I do not have the right or the wisdom to tell Him how to run this world, nor to complain about the way He is doing it. He is God and rightly so . . .

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

Proverbs says many times that fools despise wisdom and hate knowledge, but those who are wise fear God and walk with Him in reverence and awe.

Jesus, I certainly fall short in what the world calls wisdom, yet I also worship You. After many false choices and silliness, I finally understand that You alone are worthy. You created all things, but You also gave me a new heart. With the joy of that new life, I praise Your Holy Name.

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