Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fear and Love

The Bible tells us to fear God, but at the same time, the Bible says that God is loving.  How can I fear a loving God?

1 comment:

Daniel Kim said...

I think a short answer to this would be that fearing someone you love is a very natural thing, when the one that you love is in authority over you. A more detailed answer would delve into our understanding of fear and love.

My children love me very much, but at the same time, they fear me because I am their father. This is natural, and their fear of my authority does not threaten their love for me. In fact, I would say that if they loved me without fearing me as an authority figure (i.e., they loved me like they would love one of their friends or Blizzard - their pet lizard), then I would say that their love for me actually LESS complete, because their love for me has to acknowledge who I am.

Another way to put it is this: if your love for someone is deep, and if that person that you love is so much better and higher than you, then you will end up fearing being a disappointment to that person. This is an impersonal example, but imagine an Olympic runner who loves his country dearly. I think he/she would also approach his running blocks with fear and trembling, knowing that he doesn't want to disappoint his country. I think a part of the problem is that we've been so used to the idea of "love" being just affectionate feelings that we have a hard time even conceiving of love in other terms, a love for a higher, a love for Someone whose intelligence and greatness we cannot begin to fathom, a love for Someone before whom, if He showed Himself to us in His full holiness, would cause us to disintegrate and die. (Exodus 33:20). But when we start to understand the vast difference between God and us, we can have a reverent fear of God that is appropriate -- a fear that a sinful being would have toward the Holy God.

Also, the Bible describes fearing God for His goodness and forgiveness. In Psalm 130:3-4, it says:
"If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared."

The above passage talks about fearing God not only because He is the ultimate Judge before whom we cannot stand, but also because God, in the mystery of mysteries, loves us and forgives us. We cannot possibly understand such love, and we can't possibly understand God's forgiveness. I think when we begin to recognize that God's love and forgiveness is something that is unfathomable, we would begin to realize that our appropriate reaction to God's love is not "awww, how cute," or "wow, that's cool" or even "I love you so much." It is reverent fear and awe that breaks us.

Hope that helps.