Why must we fear God?
This is a valid and a good question, especially when so many people are telling us that “God is good” and “God is love.” How can anyone reconcile these two concepts, especially to people who are somewhat hostile to Christianity, especially as they have seen it practiced round about?
For the moment let’s not talk about how Christianity is preached and practiced and simply try to address the question; why must we fear God? Obviously I can only answer from my own point of view which is the point of one who is a learning to be disciple of Jesus.
Every reasonable person has fears. People fear losing their job, losing a loved one, a child, a parent, a mate, losing their money, losing their health or mental ability. We may fear being injured on the job. It seems reasonable to fear dying. Fear is usually presented as a negative thing, but is it truly? If an electrician working with high voltage does not fear the power and destructive force of that electricity, that caviler attitude can get him killed. As a truck driver I had a healthy fear of the physical laws that do not change just because I am such a smart guy, so I didn’t take an 80,000 lb. load down a 4 mile 6% grade in 8th gear.
So then when we come to God there are a couple of other things that we must consider. First of all does a person actually believe in God? If not then of course there is no reason to fear him. I have absolutely no fear of Sasquatch or yeti, because I do not believe they truly exist. The second question that should be asked if a person does believe in God is, what sort of god do they believe in?
Over time there have been many gods presented by various people and religious practitioners. Some of the gods were good, some not so good and some were downright scoundrels.
The book commonly called the Bible or The Holy Bible presents a God that is unique in many ways. The Bible itself is a very unique record. It was prepared over a period of over 1,000 years by over 50 separate authors, many of course never met one another. And yet it presents a unified record, much of which has been authenticated by science, archeology and secular history.
The God of the Bible is inexpressibly good, kind and loving, and yet he is also inexpressibly powerful and holy. The God of the Bible demands obedience of his children, and yet he provides a way of restoration for those who have been disobedient, if they will sincerely seek that restoration according to His conditions.
The foolish electrician will ignore the laws that govern the use of electricity and in the end will cause much damage and possibly injury or death. The foolish truck driver will ignore the laws of physics and will eventually destroy much and possibly injure or kill himself and possibly others. The wise electrician and the wise truck driver will have a healthy fear of the laws that govern their craft and so far as it concerns them will keep themselves and other safe.
A person who believes in the God of the Bible who is wise will have a healthy fear of the spiritual laws that govern all people and will, as far as they are able keep themselves and those around them safe.
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body but cannot touch your soul. Fear only God who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” He goes on to say, “What is the price of two sparrows – one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (NLT)
Some will say we need to respect the God of the Bible and some modern translations have said it that way, but if I only respect the God that I serve I am still free to respectfully disagree with what he says and not obey. If I fear that He is and will do what He says fear will compel me to obey whether I agree or disagree.
If you do believe in the God of the Bible who created everything and maintains all things, you definitely need to have a healthy fear of Him. If you do not believe in the God of the Bible I hope this has at least clarified the matter a little.
Proverbs says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (1:7 & 9:10) It is the beginning but it is only the beginning.
Be Faithful to what you believe.