That was always Marty McFly’s weakness in the movie Back to the Future. Many times throughout the trilogy, Marty would get himself in trouble because he didn’t want to be called “afraid,” “yellow” or “chicken.”
But in real life, there are times we are afraid. Sometimes it’s a silly fear but at other times, it’s a legitimate fear. What keeps you from walking down a dark alley or street by yourself in crime-prone neighborhoods? Fear. What helps you break bad news to a friend slowly and gently? Fear.
There are some fears, however, we need to cultivate. Read that again because you might just think you misread it the first time. I’ll wait.
Here are two that need your attention:
- The fear of “shady characters.” There’s a reason they’re shady.
- The fear of “dark alleys in crime-prone neighborhoods.” We can’t be ignorant about the reality of the world.
But there’s a another fear we need to cultivate even more: the fear of God.
Asaph writes in Psalm 76:7-9:
7 It is you alone who are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? 8 From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet— 9 when you, God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land.
Maybe you’re not like me but the longer I’m a Christian, the more I tend to reduce God. I certainly don’t reduce Him to my level but there are times when I think Him much smaller than He is. When this happens, I’ve lost some level of fear of Him. When I approach the Almighty with a “you owe me” attitude in my heart, I’ve lost some level of fear of Him. When I demand He explain Himself, I’ve lost some level of fear of Him.
Have you lost some level of fear of Him?
Jesus told us this in Luke 12:5, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Now I know we tell people all the time, “Hey…don’t be afraid of God. He’s your friend.” And to a degree that’s true but Jesus isn’t our bosom friend, our boyfriend, girlfriend, BFF, secret-handshake-club-owner, Big Brother, or the Old Man upstairs. He’s God. And He deserves our fear.
Moreover, we need to fear Him so we don’t approach Him with arrogance. The inspired author of Hebrews 12:28-29 writes, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”
Our fear of Him is not a crippling fear making us run away, but it is a fear causing us to remember Who He is and who we are not—as in the old expression: “There is one God and you aren’t Him!” In the Lord’s eyes is fire. The train of His robe fills His temple. Continuously, the inhabitants of Heaven offer praise and worship to Him. This is not Someone to be trifled with!
And He’s Someone wanting to spend time with you. Enjoy the paradox of fearing God: recognizing His limitless power and His tender embrace of you. Remember His wrath and mercy. Reflect on His acts of power and His act of grace.
Fear Him and love Him for Who He is.