Fear and Love

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
   and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Prov. 9:10

Do you ever have those moments when you read the Bible and feel the weight of the words you just read? Maybe you’ve read them over and over, but suddenly you see it in a new way.

Do you ever read the Bible and realize that there is so much you don’t have an understanding of?

Last night at our weekly Monday night Bible study/discussion group we watched a video discussing the fear of God. Francis Chan spoke of how in the Church we have taught the fear of God is just this idea of great respect for God, but if you really look at Scriptures it seems that people who encountered God were truly afraid, not just respectful. That’s the whole reason why the next words are usually, “Fear not”.

I think part of our misunderstanding is an unspoken belief that fear of any kind is bad and we cannot reconcile fearing God and loving God. Fear conjures ideas of horror movies and negative emotions and so we quickly quote 1 John 4:18, “Perfect love casts out fear” and deduce that God couldn’t be serious about fearing Him, it must be a translation error.

It seems to me that the fear must be present to be cast out though, and if we truly consider the power, might and holiness of God then the natural reaction is awe and terror. Coming in contact with such revelation dethrones our pride and egos and reminds us who God really is and what He is capable of.

I remember in college when we had a spring tornado rip through campus. Myself, along with a few others, were huddled in the bathroom of a large, metal building waiting for the storm to pass. Sitting  under a sink listening to pieces of debris bang and bounce off the walls, watching the ceiling tiles lift and lower, I can honestly say I wasn’t that scared in those moments. Then we walked outside to survey the damage. The building just across the road from ours was completely destroyed. That was when I was terrified. Face to face with the realization of how much I had to depend on God’s protection because compared to even something like a tornado I am nothing.

If a tornado has that effect, or an earthquake, or whatever else it may be that strikes that chord in you that says, “Whoa! I’m not as big and bad as I thought and I definitely need your help God” then what will our reactions be to come face to face with the Creator, the all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present Alpha and Omega? Yes, I think fear is a good word.

But God doesn’t leave us there.

He then steps in and says, “Don’t be afraid.” His perfect love, His still small voice comes and comforts and reminds us that He is our Father who gives good gifts. But I don’t think we can understand perfect love until we have experienced the fear of God. Without the fear of the Lord then we will feel that we are entitled to this love and comfort and goodness, but with it we recognize the immense grace and unconditional love of the Father.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” In my opinion it’s the beginning of wisdom because it is the place where we come to really recognize that we are small but He is great, we are weak but He is strong, and the knowledge and understanding that it’s not about us at all.

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