When I was a child, I admit that sometimes I came away from Sunday service afraid of God. I can’t say if it was the admonitions of the eternal damnation that awaited me as a sinner, the vivid stories of a God’s wrath in the Old Testament or the firery delivery of the sermons, but I feared God. More likely than not it was my lack of understanding of the scriptural context. In any event, my perspective on fear has changed over the years.
Upon first reading the scriptures are full of passages, especially in the Old Testament, exhorting us to fear God. However, having a biblical fear of God doesn’t necessarily mean we should be afraid. Rather, the Bible calls on us to fear God in the sense that we are to have reverence and awe for God. To me, this is the starting point–believing that there is a Great Omnipotent Creator and having faith that through this Supreme Being all things are possible.
We demonstrate our reverence and awe each time we reach out to God in prayer asking for guidance. In fact, according to Proverbs, reverence is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom. By reaching out to God through prayer, we begin to establish an ongoing and active relationship with God. In other words, our love for God and respect for the direction provided form the spiritual building blocks for our relationship with God. Parenthetically, it may also be why every good, lasting relationship contains love, respect and divine guidance–a pearl of wisdom that I could have used long before now!
One of the greatest things about developing an ongoing, active relationship with God is that the power of God is available to you at all times. Awe for God’s power in our lives can be a great comfort and often it is precisely that reverence which helps steady us when we are earthly afraid. The important thing to remember is in God we have nothing to fear, not even fear itself!