My good friend Adam Caldwell once made a remark concerning my lack of blog entries, saying: "I know you got some deep stuff in there" or something to that effect. Here now, is my effect to spill out one of the things that sometimes consume my thoughts. In an effort to maintain a coherent thought process, i'm going to try and break this up into a couple entries.
When you think of the Old Testament, which some more accurately call the Hebrew Bible, and which the youth at church and others more pop-culture savvy call Episode I, one word that might come up many times is fear: A division is drawn between those who feared The Lord and those who did not. Abraham feared God, even to the point of sacrificing his son, or coming real close. Pharoah did not fear God, and his kingdom was ruined. You could pretty much throw a dart at Leviticus and hit the phrase "fear your God".
When one think of the New Testament, which I don't have any cute nicknames for, one word that many would suggest would be Love. Jesus was all about love. Love love love. But what about this:
Luke 12: 4-6
4"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies[a]? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
Ah, but later on we read this:
1 John 4: 17-19
17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There 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.
19We love because he first loved us.
I've been thinking a lot about this relationship between the Fear of God and the Love of God. I think if we definae "fear" then everything becomes much clearer. When most, like myself, first read the Old Testament passages using the word Fear it has a very negative connotation. I fear being hit by a car. I fear failure. I fear screwing up something when I sing, and so forth. Is God something to be feared?
Consider this definition of "Fear of the Lord" from Easton's 1897 dictionary:
Fear of the Lord: is in the Old Testament used as a designation of true piety (Prov. 1:7; Job 28:28; Ps. 19:9). It is a fear conjoined with love and hope, and is therefore not a slavish dread, but rather filial reverence. (Comp. Deut. 32:6; Hos. 11:1; Isa. 1:2; 63:16; 64:8.) God is called "the Fear of Isaac" (Gen. 31:42, 53), i.e., the God whom Isaac feared.
A holy fear is enjoined also in the New Testament as a preventive of carelessness in religion, and as an incentive to penitence (Matt. 10:28; 2 Cor. 5:11; 7:1; Phil. 2:12; Eph. 5:21; Heb. 12:28, 29).
When we think of Fear like this, a reverence of God which does not feed our apathy and comfort but rather calls us to action then reading those passages makes a lot more sense.