Pastor Wilson writes, The Fiasco of No Fear and while it is a rather good piece, it is much like attempting to build a house with only 3 corner stones, a 3 legged house.
I agree, all true, one reason why we are so afraid of absolutely everything in the world, from covid to secular government, from death to taxes, from racism to social justice, is because we don’t fear God properly. Our eyes are on the dark things of this world and not on the power and glory of God.
The problem being, fear of God is unlike any other fear, it’s more like that much overused word from my generation, “awe-some” as in awe inspiring. “Awe” is defined as, “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.”
I like to stand at the top of cliff, a safe distance from the edge of course, look down and just take in all the awesomeness. Often the water is glistening at the bottom with snow capped peaks in the distance and it is all very beautiful. It is a tiny bit scary, much like being out in the vastness of the ocean can feel a wee bit scary. I used to enjoy a good roller coaster too, especially an old wooden one with the creaky bolts. So there are many examples of joyous fear, of celebratory reverence and admiration for what is grand, sublime, and extremely powerful. THAT is what fear of God is like. It’s a good fear.
The problem being, many people “fear God,” they fear Him so much they run as far away as they can. They don’t love Him, in fact they tend to mock and ridicule religion, faith, and Christians themselves. Mockery is how we make scary things smaller and less scary. Sometimes much like a kid covering their eyes and pretending there is no scary monster in the closet, they will simply deny His very existence entirely. Wayyyyy too scary.
We people tend to use fear to control one another, to enforce respect, even to mandate love, but God is not like that at all. He is not a people, with all our ego, pride, and insecurities. He doesn’t want us to fear Him like we might fear disease or death or taxes. He wants our love, He wants to be seated in our affections, He wants to be a Father and He wants to stick closer then a brother.
Flat out it is we of the church who have taught that obedience comes from fear, going way back beyond the Puritans. Over and over again we have gotten this all wrong. Heck, not that long ago we were burning one another at the stake attempting to inspire a proper fear of God!
I just laugh at “cancel culture.” Where do we think that originated? In the church.
And so it should come as no surprise that we arrive today and find ourselves living in a culture that values fear based obedience above and beyond wisdom, love, and common sense. We don’t love the “why” of the rules, we love the rules themselves and we’re tripping over one another eager to virtue signal how compliant we are. More yellow dots to stand on please, and let me wear two masks, and look, look, I have my papers!
“Perfect love casts out fear.” Or as the song goes, ’twas grace that taught my heart to fear. And grace my fears relieved.
For much of my life I have assisted older people with new fangled technology. A bit amusing, but there has always been a screen somewhere that says, push the green button to cancel this transaction. Without fail, they will push the green button “because it told me too!” Did you want to cancel your transaction? No! Then why did you push the green button? Because if I unquestioningly obey the machine, bits of dog chow will come out.
Why is mindless obedience more important than patience, reading comprehension, or learning new skills? Because they are terrified of the machine, the computer, the ATM, the credit card reader. They don’t realize that it does not reward quick, mindless obedience like a human might. In fact, that quick, mindless obedience and eager desire to please by following instructions perfectly is what makes phishing scams so successful.
I love our elderly, no disrespect intended, I’m am just saying that obedience rooted in fear doesn’t make the kibble drop better, it just makes you repeat the same silly mistake over and over again. Grace is what greases the skids to wisdom, grace is what teaches our heart to fear, and it is Jesus who said, “if you LOVE me, you will keep my commands.”
If you’re simply rooted in fear you’ll just keep pushing the same green button until the cows come home or the chickens come home to roost, as they now have.