In a world, and at a time when it seems that fear and anxiety are ready to overwhelm us all, what does it mean to think about the fear of God? Is that what we need to hear? Jesus himself says, “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has the power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5). Where is the God of love in such a message? How can it be that the one thing we should fear, and the Bible teaches us this quite clearly, is God, our Heavenly Father?
But the fear of God is not the same as being afraid of God. God does not want us to be afraid of him. The Bible says that perfect love drives away fear. The more we know God’s love, the more we realize there is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to be afraid of in the world around us and nothing to be afraid of with God.
“I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has the power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5)
But we are to fear God. What does this mean if it does not mean to be afraid?
Let me give a couple of examples from our daily life before reading what one of the saints says.
The Fear Of God | God Power
We can all remember our parents telling us not to play with plug sockets, especially when we were very small and might stick something into the socket and hurt ourselves. The idea was not to make us afraid of using anything electric, but it was to teach us that we needed to behave in a certain way with electricity because we could be harmed by its power, even though it could be very useful to us as well.
We are taught to fear the power of electricity and be careful in the way we act and behave around it, but we are not taught to be afraid of it, as if we should hesitate in using anything powered by electricity.
In the same way, if we are going to play near water or in the sea, our parents will warn us about the dangers. They will make sure that we learn to swim, or perhaps wear a life jacket if we go on a small boat. They are not trying to make us afraid of the water, but they want us to learn how deep the water can be, and that the waves can be very powerful, and if we behave without care, then we can come to harm. They want us to have the right sort of fear and respect for the power of the water, but they don’t want us to be afraid.
The Fear Of God | God Love
In the same way, one of the saints explains this idea when we think about God and says…
A good son or daughter has this fear when they do not want to offend or upset their most loving father in the smallest way.
This is not the same as being afraid. It is not wanting to upset or be separated from someone we love very much and who loves us even more. How do we behave when we do not want to be separated from God for a moment? We do not do those things which are not like God. We are not angry, rude, selfish, greedy, lazy or disrespectful. All of these things separate us from God.
When we have the fear of God, we know that we cannot bear to do any of these things because we want to be always close to God, and so we ask for God’s help, and we pray and read the message of his love which he gives us in the Bible, and we try to do the things that help is stay close to God. We are filled with love, joy, peace, tolerance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
“we learn that we are not to be afraid but to trust in God and his care for us in every situation” The Fear of God | By Father Peter Farrington
When we try to live like this with God’s help, then nothing can separate us from the love of God, and we love him so much and feel his love so strongly that we are fearful of losing it. This is what the fear of God means. Not being afraid of God, but loving him so much, and knowing his love ourselves that we cannot bear to think of losing it. It does not matter what age we are, we can all grow close to God and feel this love and experience his care for us so that we do not need to be afraid.
The Fear Of God | Troubled Times
This is surely a message that we need to hear in our troubled times. That having a fear of God, we overcome the fear of all other things and having the fear of God, we grow closer and trust his infinite care and compassion more completely. In this, we learn that we are not to be afraid but to trust in God and his care for us in every situation, moved by the fear of letting go of ourselves and not of falling from the safe and secure hands of God, who will not let us go.
By: Father Peter Farrington | A priest of St Mary and Saint Cyril Coptic Orthodox Church in Liverpool. United Kingdom ~ Diocese of the Midlands.
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2020-11-09 from Liverpool, England
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