Wednesday, January 16, 2013

To Fear or Not to Fear?

In Luke 12:5-7 Jesus said, “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the one who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows."

Most assume that the one who "kills" & "has authority to cast into hell" is God, so much so that some translations capitalize "the One" making it seem as though it is God. But notice Jesus goes from telling people to fear to telling them how valuable they are to God, that He never forgets them. Jesus said God knows how many hairs are on our heads. He didn't say it to make a point about God being omniscient. He said it to make a point about how much God values us, which I think pictures God enjoying to number our hairs like a warm hearted father.

Jesus then goes on to tell the people "do not fear." Well which one is it Jesus? Fear God because he'll kill you & send you to hell or Don't fear God because He values you, you are always on His mind, & He delights in knowing every detail about you? It is the second one because the first one isn't referring to God at all. Hebrews 2:14 says, "The devil has the power of death." In John 10:10 Jesus says that Satan comes only to steal, kill, & destroy.

Why would Jesus tell people to fear Satan? Because Satan's power of death had not yet been broken by Jesus' resurrection. Lets look at Hebrews 2:12-15 again, "Since God's children live in flesh & blood Jesus Himself became flesh & blood, that through death He might render powerless the one who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."

God is the Savior who offers life. Jesus didn't tell us to fear God, He said "Don't be afraid, God values you tremendously." Jesus' coming was prophesied as a time to not fear. "Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt”' (John 12:14-15). In Luke 8:50 Jesus said people are saved, healed, & made whole by trusting without fear. Why shouldn't we be afraid? Because our perfectly loving God values us enough to count every hair on our head.

What about the Old Testament telling people to "Fear God?"
During the temptation of Jesus, Jesus said, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (Mathew 4:10). Notice the word, “Worship.” Jesus said worship the Lord your God, but the verse He quoted in Deuteronomy says, “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only" (Deuteronomy 6:13). So Jesus changed out the word, “Fear” with, “Worship.” It must be that these two words are synonymous in the mind of Christ, and who else to interpret the fear of the Lord than Jesus himself! Jesus himself defined “the fear of the Lord” as “to worship the Lord.” Jesus was talking to Satan. If there was one being for Jesus to be talking to and say "fear the Lord!" or "be terrified of the Lord!" it would be Satan yet Jesus still gave us the true meaning. The fear of the Lord is not frightfulness & terror. The fear of the Lord truly is worship which means "reverence, honor, & respect."

This suggests that perhaps "fear God" never meant "be terrified of Him" but instead always meant regard, respect, & revere Him. Even if it did once refer to a terror type of fear our King has come being announced beforehand as someone to "fear not." And His Spirit has come to pour out His love into our hearts, a Spirit that is not of fear, but of power and of love and of a mind that can be confident in its abilities to understand.

"There is no fear in love. Love gets rid of fear. Fear involves punishment. Love does not punish. God is love. If you are afraid of God or afraid of punishment you have refused to be completely carried by His love. This is the key to letting His love carry us, knowing that we love because He first loved us. If you get that backwards, thinking that He loves or gives because we first love Him, your experience of His love will always be inadequate because you will be too busy trying to love Him to let Him love you." (1 John 4:18-19)

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