We decided to change things up a little with our new Stepping Stones series. We’re using a seven-part video series called BASIC by Pastor Francis Chan as a launching pad for our classroom discussion. This series explores some of the basic pillars of the early New Testament church. Check out this shortened version of our first video, “Fear God”:
When we think of some of the basic building blocks of the Christian walk, I doubt any of us would start with “fear” as one of those blocks. It’s an idea we aren’t comfortable with, and yet, we find it absolutely everywhere in Scripture! We often run across these “fear” passages and we sort of brush them aside or even apologize for them: “Well,” we say, “‘fear’ doesn’t really mean ‘fear’ – it’s more like ‘a sense of respect.'” But what if Scripture’s demands to fear the LORD mean exactly what they say they mean? What, then, do we do with this idea of fearing God? How could God actually want us to be afraid of Him? I think it comes down to this: The biblical “fear of the Lord” is the realization and acknowledgment of the fact that God is a Being of infinite, incomprehensible power and supremacy, and we can’t control Him. He is a Creator who simply refuses to be limited by our attempts to define and constrain Him. At times in Scripture, much to our chagrin, He even defies our protocols of “niceness” and “friendliness.” I am reminded of this quote from C.S. Lewis when the children in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe ask who Aslan is. Mr. Beaver responds: “‘Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.’ ‘Ooh’ said Susan. ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion’…’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.'”
You see, when we finally realize our Creator God does not fit neatly into our definitions of “safeness” or “tameness,” our first response to this God’s immense, mind-blowing power is, in fact, to fear Him! That’s what we naturally do as humans – we fear things that we can’t fully define, control, and predict. And there is a sense in which we all need to come to that point of fearing God – of realizing that He is Someone infinitely bigger and more powerful than anything our wildest dreams could ever conceive! We need to reach that point so that our arrogance and our stubbornness will disintegrate in that experience! But our God doesn’t want to leave us in that place of fear, does He? That’s why God’s next words are always “Fear not…”
“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Instead of keeping us distant and aloof from God, true biblical fear of God is a force that actually drives us into deeper intimacy with Him: “The secret of the LORD [the secrecy of intimate relationship] is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14). As Pastor Chan points out, once we’ve come to the point of complete vulnerability, complete nakedness – and even complete knee-knocking fear – in the presence of this infinitely powerful Deity, we then realize that there is nothing more to fear! We come to a place where we can simply rest in His awesome strength. Because we realize that this terrifyingly powerful God is, in fact, on our side: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Believe it or not, this same all-powerful God actually wants to call us His friends… He wants to call us His children! When we stop fighting Him, when we stop stubbornly challenging Him, we find ourselves in a place where can accept Him for who He says He is and simply rest in His embrace of unfailing love.
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:17-19)
(Videos and quoted materials taken from http://basicseries.com/)