Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Obedient Fear

                This morning I found myself thinking about the fear of God. I found myself looking up what it means to fear God. One of the definitions I found said that the fear of God leads to our obedience. When I thought about that, I wondered about my own fear. Do I fear God? Do I have a fear of God that leads me to obey His commands? To me, when I think of the word fear, I think of someone who is scared, shaking and looking for a way of escape. Most of us have had moments where we are afraid and find ourselves looking for a way out. But, this is not how God wants me to fear Him; the fear that He desires from me is a complete fear- an understanding of who He is and who He wants me to be. My fear for Him will determine how I live before Him.

Usually, when I stand before the Lord my God, fear is not something that comes to my mind. Instead, I see a God of grace and understanding, a God who loves me, who gave Himself for me. But, I think we sometimes forget that there is a whole other side to our God. I said to my husband the other day that sometimes I think we see God as this God of rainbows and unicorns. Always loving, always happy to give us whatever we want, whenever we want it, and we forget the rest of His character traits. We forget about the God who is Judge, the God who is Ruler and King. We forget that this same God once wiped out all the population of mankind from the earth because of their disobedience and sin.
Obedience and the fear of the Lord go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. If you fear God you will obey Him. Our fear of God determines how we will obey Him as well. If we have little fear of Him, then I will have less of a desire to please Him, to obey Him. When we do not fear God, our obedience can become based off our emotions- whether I feel like being obedient or not. Whether I feel like I should do something or not; our obedience should be determined by our fear of God, not on our emotions. If I truly fear God, if I truly understand that my God is a God of grace and mercy, but that He is also a jealous God, and a God of wrath, then my emotions will have no control over my obedience. I find that my emotions control me more than I would like them to. Some of you are probably thinking that our emotions are part of who we are. But, one thing we have to remember is that sin affected our emotions. Sin and disobedience can take hold of our emotions and make us not fear God at all.
If we seek to live holy lives, if we seek to please God in our daily lives, then fear which leads to obedience will be a part of who we are. It is vital to our Christian walks to fear God. Not just some of Him but all of Him. Not just the mushy parts that make us feel good, but the parts that scares us too. Not just the grace and the mercy but also the fear that your very breath is in His hands. At any moment He can decide to take your life from you- you have no say in the matter. A healthy fear of God will fear all of Him, not just the sweet, mushy parts of Him that make us feel good about ourselves, but all of Him. The lack of obedience the Lord is showing me is in my life because I do not fully and completely fear Him. I want to fear Him, and please Him in everything, every day, I want to fear all of Him.
The writer of Hebrews says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) Do we understand this truth? We go about living our lives as we want, as we feel we can, and we forget that our God is a God who desires holiness, righteousness and humbleness from His people. We think that we can do whatever we want on Friday night and Saturday night and just confess our sins on a Sunday morning. We take for granted the grace of our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ when we live our lives without fear of Him. Now, I am not saying that we walk around like we are scared to death of the God in heaven. Like He is looking down on us in disappointment, but what I am saying is that we cannot just fear the comfortable and pleasing parts of God and forget about the rest of Him. If we fear God, if we truly want to live a life of obedience, than fear, reverential fear must be at the center of all that we do.
We see God as a God of love, mercy, grace, goodness, etc, and He is all these things. But we have a tendency to make Him out to be a mushy and sweet God, forgetting that there is more to God than just those qualities. He is also Judge; He is also Creator (He controls your very breath). He is also Ruler, King, He is also a jealous God, and He is also a God of wrath. He once destroyed the whole earth and every man in it because of sin and disobedience, don’t forget that!  He is a God of vengeance, and a God who clearly says He will not tolerate sin forever. I think we get this image of God as being a God of rainbows and unicorns; skipping through the fields of heaven with grace and mercy, loving to bestow upon us all these wonderful gifts of His grace. But, we must also remember and fear God for who He is- all of Him. Even as a God of wrath. How I fear God is how I will obey Him.

If I do not fear Him, why would I obey Him? We should be fearful, for it is a frightening thing to fall into the hands of the living God. He will not strive with us forever over our sins. Eventually, we will either let go of the sins we are holding onto or we will let go of Him. Let us fear God, and keep His commandments. If we seek a life of holiness, a life of obedience, than we have to stop relying on our emotions and start relying on the fear of God in our daily lives. We cannot skip through this life taking His grace for granted. We have to come to a place where we fear Him, all of Him, not just the mushy parts. Do we fear God? Do I fear God? My fear of God is seen through my obedience to Him. So, what about you- do you fear God?