The Fear of the Lord

I am very pleased to have my good friend Ken Fletcher, director of development Southeast region for the Alliance Defense Fund, to be guest writing a post this week. Here are Ken’s thoughts on The Fear of the Lord:

In the last couple of months, I have heard several speakers tell their audiences, to “Fear Not.” They point out that the Bible says 365 times to “Fear Not” and that God does not want us to “fear.” I tend to differ. Although we should not fear man (Psalm 27) nor worry about food or raiment, (Matthew 6:25 -34), it was Christ that said, “I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, Fear him!” (Luke 12:5) If there is a message that needs to be shouted from the mountain tops in America today, it is that our citizens and the church need to develop a fear of the Lord.

I love the song by Casting Crowns, “I Can Only Imagine,” but on THAT day, I’m in the “to my knees will I fall” camp. The way we now dress, the music that we play, and the things we do at church communicate a real casual friendship with the “Man Upstairs.” If God had a first name, I’m sure we would be using it by now. We treat coming before God with as much fear and trembling as we do the cashier at the McDonald’s drivethrough. I sometimes wonder as we desire to have people “love the Lord” if we do not delay or prevent it by not stressing the fear of the Lord first?

Being a parent and a former school teacher, I have learned a valuable lesson that if you do not establish a healthy “fear” and reverence, the opportunity for love is missed or stunted. Some of the most useful advice I ever received as a teacher, was the concept of “Don’t smile until Christmas.” Respect followed by friendship. As a new teacher you entered the teaching profession wanting to be each of your students’ friend and buddy, but if you did not establish the teacher-student relationship first, it would never develop into anything positive. Think back to all of the teachers that you loved… in every situation they established respect and authority from the beginning. The first day of school you thought you would hate their class, but by the end of the year they were your favorite. The teacher that tried to be your buddy was neither.

With your children you must be a parent first and then in the late teen years a true and lasting friendship develops, but if you get these out of order, the results can be tragic. If you try to be a friend and not a parent, the child only manipulates you with their affection, dribbling it out only when given what they want, and the spoiled brat never obeys without a struggle.

So, fearing our Heavenly Father is even more of an important principle to be mastered by His children. If we do not fear God, we do not shut up or sit still long enough to listen to His instruction. If He ask us to do something we don’t like, we have a spiritual tantrum or ignore his commands altogether.

Think for a moment, why would the Scripture say “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 15:33) Consider the power of fear and think of times you have experienced it. You are so in tune, your senses are 100% functional, and your awareness is hyper-sensitive. Pretend with me, that you are in a crowded restaurant and everyone is eating, laughing, and, generally having a good time. Then all of a sudden, a 6’8’’, 375 lbs., angry man with an assault weapon busts in the front door. Everyone goes from talking and laughing, to listening. Everyone is focused on the object of their fear and the fact that your fries are cold is no longer a real concern. Those in the room listen to every word and are sensitive to every move. No one challenges him, or questions his instructions, nor would dare to offend him in anyway. Obedience is the rule of the day.

Now ponder the modern culture, fear of the Lord is so absent. Even in our churches, fear of the Lord is not a hot topic, yet I would think that it is the desire of parents and pastors everywhere that our children would become wise. It could be possible that if we do not start (the beginning of…) with the fear of the Lord, wisdom is not possible. Fear of the Lord is the foundation upon which wisdom is erected. Maybe the discussion on “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WEAR THAT TO CHURCH!!” is more important than we think.

Too often the church encourages individuals to love God without reminding them every now and then to fear Him. God has been promoted as their friend, and desperate for their love. They grow up in their faith without real respect and honor for God. If you fear God, you will seek to avoid what is offensive to Him and not worry so much about other’s opinions and trends of the world. (1 Samuel 15:24, Psalm 1:1-3) When we fear God, we will seek what pleases Him while what we prefer will no longer matter. Our worship will be focused on the One we fear, not on our personal worship style. When we fear God, we will obey His Word even when we don’t fully understand or like what is being commanded.

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