Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Philophobia

Sunday, July 28th, 2019

Message by Pastor Brian Lee

Text: 1 John 4:7-18

Description: We already have read many books, listened to multitude of stories, heard countless messages about love. But what exactly is love in its perfection? Why do love and fear tie in so closely together? How is it that we can love because of God’s preceding love for us?

PlaySubscribe via iTunes

The Fear of God

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

“Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. 4 Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:3-4

In her book on worship, Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, Marva Dawn shares the following story:

I remember an animated discussion with my high school freshman English teacher over the word awful. I insisted on using awe-full to describe something so exalted as to arouse reverence. She preferred that I stick with the word’s common spelling and its usage to designate something dreadful.

We should have looked in the dictionary. My old Webster’s lists as its first definition “inspiring awe; highly impressive.” Not until its fourth entry does it supply the definition usually assumed in idiomatic English: “very bad, ugly, unpleasant.”

But the teacher had the final word that day in class. Even at age 14 I felt that a vital perception was being lost—the sense that something, someone, was higher than we. I longed to verbalize awe-full-ness; my teacher made class awful.

Today teenagers apply the related word awesome to clothes, food, music, and cinematic effects. The word is so overused that when people sing Rich Mullins’s “Awesome God,” they seem to trivialize the Awe-full One and put the Trinity on the same level as toothpaste and togs.

As our culture has worked hard to establish equality among persons, we’ve somehow put God into that parity and gradually reduced our sense that this is a breathtakingly transcendent GOD we’re talking about.

Now, we might not agree with everything said above, but I can’t help but feel that the author has hit on something important and sad. The awesomeness of God is intended to remind us that we aren’t God; that God is “highly impressive”; that God does inspire reverence, awe, and yes, fear. When the Bible talks about fearing God, it means not just awe, and not just reverence. It also means fear. It’s the kind of fear we feel when we stand on one of the lofty peaks here in British Columbia or how we might feel standing beside the Grand Canyon. We are drawn to the amazing beauty, but we also are aware of a realistic fear at the danger, because people who acted foolishly near it have died.

What does this mean for us? I think it is a reminder that we do not presume on God. He is God and we are not. He is the judge and we are not. He is the source and sustainer of life, we are not. He is the creator, we are the creature. This may upset our dignity and pride, but it is a reminder of our place in the universe. Yes, we need to balance this with the picture of God that Jesus (and the Bible) show us—a God of love and compassion, a God of infinite patience and mercy. But maybe Marva Dawn is correct and we have erred a bit too much on that side and have forgotten the fear of God.

Motivation

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28

There is a story often told about the famous football Coach “Bear” Bryant. When Bryant was the football coach at the University of Alabama, his team was winning an important game by four points! But in the fourth quarter, with only forty seconds left in the game, the Alabama quarterback was hurt and had to be helped off the field.

Coach Bryant called for his second-string quarterback and said to him, “Now, son, we have a four-point lead with forty seconds left. I want you to get in there and run out the clock. Don’t hand the ball off. Don’t pass the ball. Just roll out to the right, run off as much time as you can, and when you sense you are about to he tack led, just go down and hang on to the ball.”

With those instructions, the young quarterback ran into the game. He called the play, took the snap, and rolled out to his right. But then he saw his wide receiver wide open down field, and the quarterback thought to himself, “I’ve never completed a pass in a college game.” And he couldn’t resist the temptation. So he threw it! But just as he was letting it go, he was hit from behind and the ball squirted up in the air.

It was intercepted by the fastest cornerback in the Conference, who started swiftly down the sideline for what could be the winning touchdown for the other team. But suddenly, the Alabama quarterback who had thrown the pass (against the Coach’s instructions) got up and started to chase the speedy cornerback. Unbelievably, incredibly, miraculously, he caught him and tackled him at the five-yard line, just as the horn sounded. Alabama had won the game—much to the relief of the quarterback.

After the game, the other coach congratulated Coach Bryant: “I can’t believe your quarterback caught my man. He is one of the fastest runners in the United States. I don’t know how in the world he caught him.”

“Well, it’s really very simple,” said Coach Bryant. “Your man was running for a touchdown. My man was running for his life!” It’s amazing what you can do when you are properly motivated!

Now, if a young football player can be that powerfully motivated by fear of his coach, why can’t we be that powerfully motivated by our confidence in God, our trust in God, our faith in God our experience of the love of God? Many years ago, Isaiah sensed the presence of God in the Temple. God said to him, “There are problems in the land and I need a prophet for this hour. I need someone to serve me. . . and speak out for me.” And Isaiah answered, “Yes! Here am I, Lord!” Can you say yes to God like that—”Yes, Lord. Here am I, send me”? Well, how about it? Can you say the same thing?