Friday, October 10, 2008

Fear Itself

"A song of ascents. Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;

Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.

If you, LORD, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?

But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered.

I wait with longing for the LORD, my soul waits for his word.

My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. More than sentinels for daybreak,

let Israel look for the LORD, For with the LORD is kindness, with him is full redemption,

And God will redeem Israel from all their sins."
~Psalm 130 NAB

What does it mean to fear the Lord? As with any theological topic of discussion, you have two poles. In this case, you have one which teaches that fearing the Lord God is being afraid of Him. Much like a child is afraid of a monster, or I am terrified of spiders! And there is the other pole, one which teaches that fearing the Lord is simply revering him. I feel like there has to be a delicate balance of the two. To be terrified is too much. With spiders, I can't even flip through a book with pictures of them. How would that work with God? What if we were too scared to flip through the Bible? And with simply reverence. How is that reverence carried out? What we need to do is acknowledge that he is the Most High.

- We must first acknowledge that He has a plan for our lives.

"But he had decided, and who can say him nay? What he desires, that he does. For he will carry out what is appointed for me; and many such things may yet be in his mind.” ~Job 23:13-14 NAB

God is sovereign. That's it, He is the God Most High. That truth was the foundation for most of John Calvin's theology. That God is sovereign and can do whatever He wants. That's where he founded his beliefs about predestination. But, predestination aside, there are many times when we have to let go of what we think is supposed to happen...or what we want to happen and sit. We need to be still and know that He is God. Part of knowing that he is God is knowing that He has a plan, and that it is also impossible for us to completely know what His plan is. Part of fearing God is knowing what He is, and what we are. Knowing our place in the cosmic structure.

- What comes with acknowledging that He is God and that we need Him is our need for forgiveness.

We all know that we are sinful beings. Romans 3:23 NAB says that “For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” And we also know that there is no way for us to enter heaven unless we are cleansed. When we begin living for God, He calls our sins to mind. A life in Christ requires repentance, to turn away from your old sinful life and try to live for God. Now, God knows that we can't live without sinning, so he offers this wonderful gift known as forgiveness. The bit from above, “If you, oh Lord, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?”. This is a variation on the Romans verse which says that no one can stand up before the Lord as sinless. The passage goes on to say, “But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered.” This translation actually uses the word revered rather that feared, but the point is the same. It again shows that we are men and He is the sovereign God. We need Him to forgive our sins. The only way to receive forgiveness is to ask for it. Again asserting the fact that we are human. We must humble ourselves and ask for be cleaned. Another way of revering Him.
Now, whether you confess your sins in personal prayer or to another Christian the attitude should be the same. Not one of terror, confession to avoid being stuck down, but rather, one of humility. The forgiveness He offers in an act of His great love for us. He wants us to spend eternity with Him, so he offers His forgiveness for us. We should take it with open arms, knowing that we do not deserve such a gift, but that we require it to mend our imperfections. Confess with a joyous, yet humble heart. Show genuine contrition and He shall forgive you. Also, try very hard to avoid sin. That is important. Never be afraid to approach God. Rather, know that he is God and that He is sovereign. Never think for one minute that you can do anything without Him. Always depend on Him and confess to Him. That is how you fear Him. Know that you need Him.

"The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." ~Proverbs 9:10 NAB

"And to man he said: Behold, the fear of the LORD is wisdom; and avoiding evil is understanding." ~Job 28:28 NAB