Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fear God

The following is my sharing in our church’s Wednesday night meeting, May 6.

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Good evening.

In our Living Life text for today, Psalm 76:1-12 (entitled “Victory is the Lord’s”), let me use verses 7 and 10 as my key verses. Verse 7: “You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before when you are angry?” Verse 10: “Surely your wrath against men brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.”

Just as we should appreciate that God is a God of Love, we should also be able to appreciate that God is a God of Wrath and worthy to be feared.

If we truly know and see the character of God, our response would be spontaneous: to love, to enjoy, to worship, and the fear Him.

We our sinners. We deserve to suffer God’s wrath. Hell is our destination because that is what is just, and God is a God of Justice.

Let us imagine that we are not Christians. Internalize. Imagine it as if is a truth. Now if this hypothetical imagination is reality, we are doomed. Ultimate despair. Why? Because we are objects of God’s wrath. God, with all his power and glory, would bring eternal damnation upon us, just like what He does to His enemies. Scary indeed.

But instead of His power and glory manifesting this way (by letting His wrath upon us by letting as burn in Hell forever), He instead showed His power and glory by choosing us and saving us. Instead of glorifying Himself by giving us damnation, as we deserve, He glorified Himself by giving us grace – grace that we do not deserve at all.

Because Jesus died on the cross, He shielded us from the Wrath of God. He absorbed the punishment for us. And now, we are no longer “the objects of God’s wrath” but the apples of His eyes!

Thus, as we see God’s glory, our response is not only of love and gratitude, but also of fear. Fear, because we know His power. What He can do. What destruction He can bring to His enemies.

We should indeed fear God. But not because we fear of His wrath coming upon us and of us being sent to Hell. No, because of His grace, we are assured of salvation.

Then, what does it mean to fear God as a Christian? Even the devil and his minions fear God – His enemies fear Him. But this is the kind of fear mentioned by Master Yoda in Star Wars Episode I, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side.” The devil’s fear is a fear with hate. We, Christians fear God with love, joy, and awe.

The beauty and majesty of God goes hand-in-hand of Him being worth fearing.

Let me illustrate. When I was a young boy, we went for a trip to Mt. Isarog. There, I first saw my first waterfalls (three of them). Of course, I admire the waterfall’s beauty. But the largeness of it, the loud roar of the falls, and its manifestation of its “power” also inspired fear in me. My heart beat fast. But that fear was hand-in-hand with awe - seeing the beauty and majesty of Nature. And this fear of the waterfall also gave me a smile.

Just as Nature’s beauty – the Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, Mayon Volcano, Lightning Storms, etc. – inspire this fear with awe and admiration, a fear that also brings joy, in some way is the same with how God inspires fear to us Christians.

With the same power and glory God manifests to punish His enemies, this same power and glory is instead manifested by delivering us from our troubles and granting us undeserved favors and blessings. Thus, we don’t need to fear anybody or anything in this world because only God is worth fearing, and God is on our side. There is nothing bigger than God. And it is sure that He will show His glory – not by punishing us - He will show His glory by delivering us from our enemies and problems.

In response, we should continue to glorify Him, by praising Him, enjoying Him, and fearing Him. Indeed, victory is the Lord’s (just as the title of today’s reflection says), and we have the victory. Because having our Lord in our lives is our victory.


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