We often hear about the "Christian Right," or "Conservative Christians." Yet, if you think about it, Jesus was the original liberal.  He cared about motives more than the deeds themselves (Matthew 23:5 & Mark 12:41-43) and more about compassion than adhering to rules (Luke 6:1-11 & Luke 13:10-17). This blog will reflect liberal Christian values of compassion, tolerance, mercy, charity, a thirst for knowledge & understanding, and, above all, love.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Fear Not

Isaiah 41: 10 (ESV) ~ "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

I found the verse in my email inbox this morning.  It couldn't have come at a better time too.  My Bible study group recently came to discuss the ideas that Christians should "fear God."  This never made sense to me.

I wrote in my study answers, "I've always had trouble with the whole 'God fearing' aspect of Christianity. If you're in a healthy loving relationship with someone, you don't fear them. We're supposed to be in a personal loving relationship with God, so we shouldn't be afraid of Him. It just seems contradictory to me.  In Romans 8, Paul compares us to children and heirs of God. Children obey their parents out of love and respect. Perhaps 'respect' is a more accurate term than 'fear.'"

By my way of thinking, when we act out of fear we're acting to avoid a punishment.  When one acts to avoid a negative outcome, one is said to be acting with prudence.  A prudent act is typically thought to be amoral, which means neither moral nor immoral.  In other words, acting out of fear of God negates the morality of the act.

I have a hard time believing that God wants us to be neutral players in life.  The God I envision and worship wants us to be motivated by love and morality.  He wants us to WANT to do good for the sake of doing good, rather than to avoid going to Hell.
WOW, that ended in a place I hadn't predicted.  I don't typically get that preachy.  Sometimes, I get in a groove and the words take over.  I stand by the piece though.   Personally, I prefer God as he's depicted in Isaiah, a God who is with us and who will strengthen, help, and uphold us with his righteous right hand.

I'm curious about what you think.  Is it important to fear God?