Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Starting With Fear?

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." 
Proverbs 1:7

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight."
Proverbs 9:10

"The fear of the LORD prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short."
Proverbs 10:27

"In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge."
Proverbs 14:26

"The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death."
Proverbs 14:27

I didn't have to search long to find more than a couple verses about the fear of the LORD. And I know talking about "fearing the LORD" is not very popular these days. We like to think of God as this super-friendly, cuddly, sweet, overflowing with grace-type of God. And He definitely overflows with grace, but fear is still the place to start and still something we need to work through. 

It wasn't until thinking and studying about what it means to Know God that I began to understand the fear of the LORD in its proper place. I still have not spent a ton of time looking at everything about "fearing God" but I gained a better perspective, and I hope what I share will be insightful and helpful for you too. 

If you look back and read my posts about Knowing God, you will read a little about the analogy of a mountain. I know things about Mt. Hood, being a long-time Oregonian, but I don't know Mt. Hood the same way my friend Pearce knows Mt. Hood. He has climbed it, helped with rescue teams, and even co-wrote a book regarding mountain safety and rescue. He can probably tell you all about what you should or shouldn't do, and what to do if you find yourself in a pickle. He would tell you that is all begins with the right amount of fear of the mountain. 

Suppose you decide to climb Mt. Hood but you have no fear or regard for what the mountain is like. You don't care to know what happens when you climb ice, what it's like to sleep out in the snow, what happens when you try to scale terrain that is unstable, or what kind of animals you might encounter along the way. How do you think your climb is going to go? It is the same as our walk with God. 

If we consider our walk with the Lord as a journey on a mountain, the analogy makes a lot of sense. There is no sense learning about the mountain if we don't intend to experience it firsthand. And it is pure foolishness to embark on a journey up the mountain if we don't understand the gravity of what can happen when we don't regard the conditions and the atmosphere of the mountain. We cannot go to God expecting everything to just be jolly well and good; we need a healthy dose of fear. 

To be straight, we don't need to fear our standing with God. If you believe and then follow Christ, you are totally set. But we still need to take what God commands with utmost sincerity. It's not a joke, a suggestion, or a "your life might be better if you do these things" type of situation. It is a healthy thing to fear the consequences of a life lived as a "Christian" but not actually lived in obedience. This is exactly what Jesus talks about in Matthew 7. 

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 7:21

Jesus further explains that a mere willingness to do spiritual things is different from actually obeying God. Do you fear that in your own life? That you are not actually following God but just doing the spiritual stuff that seems "Christian"? That fear should spur you to Know God better, to find out what it really means to live for Him and pursue that earnestly. 

Don't just seek to travel up the mountain and have a good time. Know with gravity the seriousness of situations you might encounter. Know how situations ought to be approached. Study, research, ask other people questions. 

Eternity and God are far more important things to learn about than any mountain experience. Begin with the right kind of fear, and let it lead to a confident knowing. Let that knowing guide you and bring you security and joy. Don't get caught up in the idea that we shouldn't fear God; it is the beginning of the best things you can learn about Him and experience through Him. 

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