A couple of months ago, my best friend Andre and I started up a bible study for the Christians in our missional community. It’s our way of making sure we have time to connect with one another on a deeper level, pray and worship, study the Bible and share struggles and challenges that might be difficult to talk about when we’re around non-Christians.
So every other Sunday evening, we meet at the Campus House of Prayer (CHOP) from 6pm to 8pm, and it’s been awesome. There’s something about building close relationships with Christians in your community that not only encourages and edifies, it also helps us focus on what God has called us to do as a group with our missional community.
This past Sunday, we got on a particularly interesting subject that made me think a lot about the state of Christianity today, and why it is a lot of Christians seem to have trouble acting out what they say they believe.
We were talking about the fear of the Lord.
Two Kinds of Fear
Proverbs is widely known among Christians as “the wisdom book.” If you want to know how to manage finances, how to treat people, how to avoid bad situations or any other principles on everyday living, this is one of THE books we’re told to consult. So I find it interesting that right from the beginning, it kicks things off with this: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
What is the fear of the Lord? And what does that mean exactly? In my experience, a lot of people hear this phrase and immediately equate it to cowering down in fright before an angry God who might smite you in a second for stepping out of line. And while that’s not exactly untrue since God does have the power to shoot flames down on earth (see 1 Kings 18:17-40), I think there’s more to that statement than meets the eye.
See the other definition of fear (as defined by dictionary.com) is reverential awe, especially towards God.
The Good Kind of Fear
I get it, fear in and of itself isn’t a fun thing to experience. But I do think that in the proper context, as it relates to God, it’s not only appropriate, it’s a good thing. The reality is I think we live in a culture today where a lot of Christians may love God, but they don’t fear Him. And what I mean by that is they seem to care more about what they want than what God wants for them.
If you’ve ever been in awe of someone or something, then you’ll also realize that immediately, you actions become more careful. It’s like being in the presence of royalty, you don’t want to say or do anything wrong, checking your manners, your speech and making sure you put your best foot forward. We do this not just because we want to look good in front of that person, but also because that’s the kind of respect and behavior that we think they deserve.
Therefore, when it comes to God, who is after all our ultimate King, this kind of approach shouldn’t just be reflected, it should be magnified. The truth is, I think that the right kind of fear of God provokes us to make right decisions and move forward in our lives and in our faith. Awe of God is not just an amazement at His majesty and sovereignty, it is also an acknowledgement that in all things He knows best, and it is in our best interest to be obedient to His will.
Unafraid and Unbroken
If I’m being honest today, then I’d tell you that I’m not as broken over sin and rebellion both in my life and the lives of others as I should be. It’s because at the end of the day, while I intrinsically know when something is wrong, I still battle with selfishness and pride over giving things over the God.
But it’s also a reminder to me why this is something that is to be taken seriously. Because I think the fear of God doesn’t just keep us in line with God, it’s also one of the main foundations of faith. It is, as the bible says, the beginning of all knowledge, and is what I believe allows us to truly get to know God.
It quickens our conscience, causes us to listen more to the Holy Spirit, and I think makes us more effective witnesses because the reality is if you’re aware of how and what your actions look like to God, then you’d be more likely to do things that pleases Him, which in turn will present a good example to those around you.
Not Safe, But Good
“Is he—quite safe?”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Today as I leave you with my final thoughts on this subject, I hope you will consider what your actions are saying and whether you truly fear God or not. This is not to condemn any of you, but rather an encouragement to really think about the awesomeness that is the God that we serve.
My thought is that if we truly understood and feared Him, we would all be praying more, reaching out more, and living lives that glorify Him in every way we can. Especially when we’re on college campuses, we must strive to present an accurate image of what it looks like to truly worship and follow God.
God is all powerful, but just as He rewards those who serve Him well, there are also consequences for living life carelessly without giving Him much thought beyond the prayer of salvation. And I for one, do not want to be named a modern day Pharisee hindering His work on campus.
To fear Him is to know Him, to know Him is to love Him, to love Him is to do His will. So the question then is, do you really fear Him? Or do you just think you do?
Kimberly Chung is the National Media Director for Campus Renewal Ministries, a ministry focused on forging partnerships in prayer to build missional communities that transform college campuses with the gospel of Jesus. She is a campus minister to The University of Texas at Austin and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org