Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Now Where Did That Come From?

For those that read the Bible on a regular basis, this is probably a normal occurance. You read something that you have read before (perhaps many times) but this time you see something that you've never really seen before. It's been there all along, but this time you finally notice it. It's as if the words jump off the page and shout, "Here I am! Read me!"

So this happened to me as I was reading the familiar passage from Exodus, chapter 20. This is the place where God gives the Israelites the Ten Commandments. Right after the big 10, the Bible says this...

Beginning at verse 18: When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."
Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Wow! Did that line jump out at you like it did at me?

"Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

I don't think that we fear God any more. Not that God wants us to be afraid of Him. He wants for us to revere Him; to understand that He is omnipotent; to know that He is greater than anything in the world. And at the same time, to know that He loves us and wants to be loved by us.

We have become pretty self sufficient today. We don't need God for much. (sarcasm intended) I mean the world has been set in motion by the Creator and will run its course. God doesn't need to intervene and we just don't need to think about God on a daily basis. Right?

Maybe it's that attitude that finds the world in its current state of moral decay--no fear of God. Not only do we not fear God, we really don't count on God for much. We are satisfied to rely on government, jobs, the market, financial institutions (all of the things that are failing today) to give us a false sense of security and a false sense of peace. When these things fail, then we worry and wonder about who or what we can trust. We fear what may become of our personal finances, our jobs, our homes, etc. But we have no fear of God.

Moses told the people that it is the fear of God that keeps us from sinning. The world certainly has given us its share of fearful things--God isn't one of them. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus says, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." I'm not sure why we don't fear God any more. At least it would appear that we have little fear of God.

So I was wondering...when you're about to do something that you know you shouldn't do, and then you don't do it, what is it that keeps you from doing it? Fear of getting caught? Fear of God? Integrity? (you just want to do the right thing) How about love of God? You know, really wanting to be obedient.

I used to think that if at the end of time it turned out that the atheists were right and there was no God, what would be the worst case scenario for all of the Christians? That they lived a life striving for a higher purpose? That they tried that "do unto others" thing? That they taught others a way of life that was based on love? Even if the end of life is just the end of life...wouldn't it have been a life worth living?

On the other hand, what if...well I think you know the what if of the other hand.

So, do you revere God?



Patrick said...

I can relate to the loss of reverence for God. It's one of the few things that I miss about being a Catholic. One of the things that I have come away from my Catholic upbringing is that reverence for God's house. I remember how we had to be quiet when coming into the church out of respect for the people that were praying and respect for the sanctity of the church. I still carry that reverence today even though I go to a Pentacostal church where a little raucous is not only expected, but encouraged. I sometimes get a little offended when people let their kids treat the sanctuary like it's a playground. I know that's my problem to deal with because we don't want kids to be uncomfortable or even hate church, but I believe that there has to be a balance. Where God's house is concerned, there is a time to dance and a time to be still. But there is ALWAYS a time to praise!

Claudia said...

It has been easier to revere God since my life began going well, and it has been going particularly well most of the going-on 14 years I've been in ministry. But I can understand the challenges my mental patients have in revering God. Most of them face huge odds against recovery. Many of them have little or no financial security. More than a few of them have exhausted any friends or relatives they have whom they once counted on. They are, in many ways, more fragile than patients in the general medical/surgical units of the hospital. I'm amazed they have any sense of joy, hope or humor at all, but fear of financial insecurity, social isolation or bodily harm has not wrung all of that from them. They probably understand better than I do how much God loves them, because God is all they know that is keeping them going. When they sing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" with me, they mean it to their cores. Yet maybe because they feel Jesus' love and protection so much more acutely than more fortunate persons, they backslide more easily, taking advantage of His unconditional love. So there's always this struggle between reverence and obedience to God and feeling loved vs. feeling hopeless. When they feel loved, they can more easily obey. When they feel hopeless, they give in to sin. But I could say that of a lot of people who have not been diagnosed with mental illnesses. Generally, even when we revere God, it seems if we fall into hopelessness, we are more vulnerable to sin.

Mike said...

"we really don't count on God for much"

I counted on God not to strike down all of Franks friends and he came through. My posts 596 and 599.

(I knew if I thought hard enough I could come up with a comment for this post. But it took awhile. And I have a headache now.)

Sicilian said...

I hear what Patrick is saying, and honestly I don't miss the almost crawling up the isles to slink into a pew. . . . . I kind of like my concept of a loving God. . . . I don't miss the strike you dead Moses God at all. . . . . fear of separation from God's love is the biggest motivator. . . not the spanking that I will get.
Thanks for the advice. . . . I pulled the post . . . I have been stewing over it for several days. . . . not sure if it has passed yet.


You are right in that we don't fear God so much anymore but I will say that I love him and when about to do something I should not I think it is guilt and integrity that keeps me from doing it.