Summary: What it means to practice “The fear of God” for today’s Christian. Is this an archaic thing or is it still applicable for today? And if so, how can we practice it.
“The fear of God” for today.
By Andrew Chan, PBC, Vancouver, BC
13 Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person. 14 God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
Eccl. 12:13,14 (NLT)
“Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.” This is not something you hear everyday on the streets. It sure is not a popular thing to say. Fear is more likely a response to perceived threat such as bad guys, criminals who want to do u harm. So we buy alarms for cars, homes, fear of breaking in. Fear is negative in most of our experience. I sense that because of that negative perception re: fear it is also not something you’ll hear everyday in church either. So “the fear of God” is something that gets very little coverage. You’ll hear more about “love God” and that kind of stuff but seldom do u hear “fear God”, including myself, cos I rather focus on what’s good. I don’t like the hell and brimstone stuff, it sounds too scary and too hot to handle, and that is why I choose Christ in my life cos’ that will get me to heaven, not hell.
But can fear be positive too? These days people pay to have this feeling of fear. This summer all across the world, millions of dollars are spent by people to have a fearful experience - Jurassic Park 3 (over $80 million just last week) and Planet of the Apes plus all the rides in Amusement Parks. There is fun involved here. That is the main pt. Of today’s message for people who know Jesus Christ, who have trusted God for salvation, the fear of God is a positive experience, as the price of admission to God’s holy heaven is paid for. Judgment day brings no fear. But to people who reject Christ, the fear of God is negative. I think that is why some people avoid the topic because they know they don’t have things right with God. I think that is why the author of Eccl. At last came to this final conclusion, it cannot be avoided, he has pursued pleasure, living for the moment, everything he pleases, in the end of his life, he says all is meaningless… And one day we’ll all face God and every pursuit to make life interesting is meaningless in front of the Creator… So he cautions 12:1 “Remember your creator in the days of your youth” for if there is a God, and there is, then they will be an accounting for everything we have done… so live then in the “fear of God” is the cry of the Eccl. Writer.
What does the Bible mean to fear God? Be afraid, be very afraid? So that you don’t dare to anything? Parable of Talents (Matt.25:25)… what was the outcome? The guy who did nothing with his one talent cos he “feared” the big boss was the one who got tossed out. So it does not mean be frozen in fear, right? In fact, faith, like our physical bodies, need a good work out if we want our bodies to be good, work it out with “fear and trembling” (Phil.2:12).
Somehow the Bible expects people to be fearful of God. But did not God command us to love Him with all hearts soul and mind? So how can love and fear co-exist at the same time, doesn’t seem to go together, right? To be sure, the Bible does speak about fearing God. So then, how does fear and love really go together? Or is this an archaic phrase that does not belong to our time, maybe a more appropriate phrase could be used, something more politically correct? And if it is still true how can this be applied for today?