What the Fear of God Has to Do with Bumper Pads

482015125_XSThe fear of God can be a confusing thing. God repeatedly tells us not to be afraid, yet He also says we are to fear Him. Without getting into Hebrew and Greek, which I only know enough to quickly get myself into deep waters, we sometimes make it simple for ourselves by stating fear of God is the same as respect for God. But that’s not truly accurate. Fear (of God) must involve respect, but the two are not interchangeable.

Fear of God is recognizing who He is and who we are in relation to Him. He is a good God who loves and forgives us. He is compassionate, merciful, and loving. He is also just, righteous, jealous, and angry. None of those things are in conflict of one another. None of them can be separated from one another. God has all of those characteristics. We can’t take what we like most about God and make Him into someone we want Him to be. He is sovereign. We can’t compare our own experiences and assumptions of His qualities and project them as truth of who He is.

We are created by Him. He is our authority. We may avoid Him, refuse Him, fear Him, respect Him, or love Him, but our reaction to God doesn’t change Him.

So how can we fear Him in a way that honors Him?

Being scared of God and fearing Him are different. One has something to hide. The other has nothing to hide.

Being scared of God makes us run away. Fearing Him acknowledges who He is and places us in a humble relationship with Him. It exposes us to be able to know Him and receive from Him all He wants to pour into us.

When we walk in His ways, we fear Him. When we fear Him, we walk in His ways.

Fear serves the same purpose as bumper pads in a bowling alley, keeping us out of the gutter.

Keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. (Deuteronomy 8:6)

God’s Children

imagesEveryone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is God’s child, and whoever loves the Father also loves the Father’s children. This is how we know we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. Loving God means obeying his commands. And God’s commands are not too hard for us, because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world—our faith. So the one who conquers the world is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ is the One who came by water and blood. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  1 John 5:1-6

No excuses. That’s what God wants us to understand. His commands are not too difficult for us. If we believe, we love. If we love, we obey. We access God’s power because of our belief. We aren’t concerned with having God’s power because we want to be powerful. We want God’s power because it reveals him to others. When God shows up in our lives, he shows up to others. We glorify him by becoming transparent, allowing him to show himself and work through us.

We obey not because we can get something in return, but because our obedience honors God. Our obedience acknowledges God as Creator and Redeemer. We place our trust in him, knowing he is sovereign.

We struggle with obedience at times, not just because we want to do something our own way but because God’s way seems more difficult than we want to pursue at times. We often don’t understand, which further diminishes our energy level. When we’re not invested and don’t see the purpose, we can easily disengage and make excuses. In the process, we’re turning the focus back on ourselves. God says his commands aren’t too hard for us. Since he created us, he should know!

He doesn’t say his commands are easy. He simply says they’re not too hard. Let’s not confuse the two.

Sending Jesus to earth to die wasn’t easy. Jesus didn’t have an easy life – or death. However, sending Jesus to earth to die wasn’t too hard. Jesus’ life – and death – wasn’t too hard. Both were accomplished regardless of the pain and suffering. God chose the hard over the easy, because it was best. God knows the difference between hard and too hard. In order to give us living water, Jesus had to shed blood. His water and blood are inseparable.

Live It. What is in your life right now that seems too hard? Let God give you fresh perspective, showing you the difference between hard and too hard. Respond obediently.