Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fear of God

Lately I have been revisiting an age old question that I have had in my faith. That question is what the Scripture means when it commends the "fear of God" (Proverbs 1:7).

Some argue that the term "the fear of God" refers to a persons respect or reverence for God. They argue that the term really means something more like we need to have a healthy respect for God and his Word. At times I have been convinced of this opinion. After all, the New Testament seems to agree with this "reverence" interpretation when it says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (I John 4: 18).

Nevertheless, part of me has always thought this was a dodge of the Old Testament call to fear the Lord. I believe in some sense, it is important to have a healthy fear of God. I think of my parents and their leadership in my life. I knew my mom loved me. But I still had a healthy fear of her discipline and of disappointing her. In some way, I think this is what the Bible is talking about.

I also have begun to wonder if when the Bible speaks of the "fear of the Lord" it is speaking of where we need to be at the beginning, and that it is not speaking about the end that God is aiming for. In other words the fear of the judgment of God, the consequences of sin, and the power of God leads us to begin to listen to him. Somewhere though, the love of God leads us to a deeper, more personal, more authentic and more powerful faith. Thus the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, but the love of God is the end (meaning the goal) of faith. What do you think?

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