Jul 22

Fear or Love

Fear or Love

 

Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.                Acts 9:31 NRSV

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God.                                                 2 Corinthians 7:1 NRSV

 

In an earlier devotion (65) I wrote about a correct understanding of the fear of God. I said there that it is not the fear of punishment (what John is talking about in 1 John 4:18) but rather a way of living. It is to live with a correct understanding of reality and of your place in it. It is to live carefully and responsibly, in the knowledge that your life is a gift, and that you are accountable for what you do with it.  It is really important to recognize that this is not an Old Testament Idea (obey God because you are afraid of him) that is replaced by the New Testament idea (obey God because you love him).

As the scriptures above show, the fear of God and the love of God go together. Many of my former students remind me of something I have frequently said in class: “If the little God who lives under your bed loves you, that is not particularly good news; but if the God who could fry you alive by looking at you loves you, that is good news.” To have stood at the foot of the Cross and realized what is actually taking place there – that the Eternal, Infinite God, Life itself, is dying for us – should definitely not diminish our awe of God and our determination to do nothing that would hurt or displease him. Rather it should move us to a new dimension of that determination. It should determine us, in the words of the Apostle, to “perfect holiness in the fear of God.”

 

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