And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How Can I Obey a God I Do Not Fear?

We wrestle spiritually. It’s a Biblical truth. I believe much of our wrestling is because we have wrong priorities and values. In junior high I longed for a Les Paul guitar. The price was astronomical. But I wanted one. It was that which would make me a rock star. It was a grail of achievement. It represented status, power, influence. It was a trophy to be won. (Sounds like idolatry, but that’s another blog) Well for Christmas a few years ago I got my Les Paul. Now it sits in a box. Rarely is it touched or used. It may not even know what being in tune is anymore. Let me suffice to say that once again the illusion of happiness has only served to revealed the futility of things of this world. One good point is, now I do not need to buy that Ferrari.

But this was a wrestle. I would see a Les Paul and drool. I would spend time thinking on how to achieve it. Other issues would be set aside in my pursuit. James puts it well, What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)

Problem is that so often in the Consumer Gospel people see God as a god of vending rather than vengeance. They do not fear God. So little today is preached on sin, and even less is the preaching of judgment. Without fear of God there is no wisdom, no recompense for sin, not woe of sin. Fearlessness in the vision of God leads to treating Him as a common buddy and irreverent worship. This is what C S Lewis would describe as perceiving God as an old grandfather.

Without a fear of God there is no motivation to pursue God. Think about this; prayer is taken out of school. Then the Bible supposedly becomes irrelevant to those being taught. Then God is forgotten and that leads to delineation from morals. Mind you with this vacuum created something winds up filling in, we call this every whim of doctrine. What you then have is chaos in the classroom as there is no enforceable morality and discipline is removed for personal preferences. Thus the education levels are eroded to why Johnny can’t read but he can use a condom. We live in a Midwestern state that threatens the employment of teachers if their kids don’t pass a state test. So all year long the kids are drilled to pass this one test, all at the expense of real education.

I could go on but I am sure that you get the point.

You could say this same experience is within the church. Our people are looking for just enough to get by. They want motivation, self esteem enhancement, friends, music they like without words affecting them, All that matters is in the end that they pass the test. Jesus warned of this in Matthew 7, how at judgment the “faithful in things” would be absent from true saving relationship.

We need to know God. To know Him is to fear Him. The fear of God will also produce a love for God. I believe that as I read the old testament and see His wrath, and the wrath to come, that I have a thankful heart for a God who hates sin so deeply. It opens my eyes to His holiness. I gain glimpses of Him that bring my soul to worship.

There is much to be said of the Old Testament and its worship. We must not be so pharisaical as to say we would not have made the same mistakes as the Hebrews. For God does wonders around us all the time that are to hold us fast, and in this age we have the Holy Spirit. Those who worshipped God in the OT took time to be holy. They celebrated the history of God in festivals and they kept the Sabbath holy. They feared God such that their lives saw that everything was done to the glory of God.

So I ask, Can we worship a God whom we do not fear?

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