Sorry it’s been a while since my last post. I have been so overloaded with fresh life revelation and truth that it’s hard to know where to start and what to say! It is like I am growing in fullness in ways never imagined because of more understanding of the foolishness and power of the cross! What fullness He has for us – fuller than we can totally grasp – for all eternity – and yet it is for here and now! I’m finding this smile on my face and heart, along with a giddy feeling inside. Does the message of the cross do that for you? Oh the certainty in His cross! And yet so many Christians live in a place of uncertainty because of an identity crisis of not knowing who God really is, who they really are, and what Jesus really did.
The previous post, Christian Identity Crisis Affects Certainty, illustrated our delusion of distance and separation from God. Fear also compounds this delusion. In fact how you heard or know the Gospel message can feed that fear!
Do you fear God? Are you afraid of Him? It’s amazing how many believers are afraid of Him. Some of that fear comes from not wanting to be bad or make a mistake which would disappoint Him and even make Him angry. Of course, if someone said ‘Yes’ to Jesus because they didn’t want to go to hell, then it is understandable why they would live in a fear relationship with God. Not good.
Traditionally, yet sadly, the Gospel is basically about Jesus dying for you so you can go to heaven. (Do you know it is so much more than that!) Generally speaking, you are told that even though you are a sinner, God loves you and that is why He sent His Son to die for you.
But you have to do something in order for His death to have any effect in your life. Basically you must:
- repent of your sins
- ask God to forgive you
- ask Jesus into your heart
If you do these things, then you will be saved, go to heaven, and hence not have to spend eternity in hell. When you think about this kind of presentation of the Gospel, it sounds sobering and grim. It inadvertently makes God look like a meanie, since He will send some to hell if they don’t repent. No wonder it’s easy to be afraid of Him!
I grew up hearing, and hence believing, that Jesus loved me. I did ask Him to be my Savior as a child. But there was this little fear of God operating over the years that had me believe He was watching me and if I messed up then I would be in trouble with Him. In my twenties I encountered the Lord in a very experiential way that made Him so real and close. My ardent love and zeal for Him was palpable. The words in the Bible came alive and I hungered for His word. When I did mess up I felt so bad that I had disappointed Him. There was lots of repenting, tears, begging for forgiveness, and wanting to be right with God again. Little did I know it was my lack of understanding of Him and the cross that was messed up, not me! Now at the ripe old age of 64, I am being blown away by clearer understanding of His complete and finished work on the cross!
I would venture to say that the majority of Christians fear God in such a way that it does not help make them certain – i.e. certain of His love, certain of His goodness, certain that He really cares for them, certain they are totally accepted by Him, let along certain of His love for ALL mankind.
Do you know the Old Testament Hebrew meaning of the word ‘fear’, when it comes to God, has to do with wonder, awe, amazement, reverence? It has nothing to do with wincing, trembling, or being afraid of Him. Brennan Manning states, the Biblical meaning of ‘fear of the Lord’ is “silent wonder, radical amazement, affectionate awe at the infinite goodness of God”. Please pause to ponder this deep insight. Oh to absorb that reality!
Hey, let’s consider 1Jn 4:18 – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” Looks like God is not into punishment. In fact it says He wants to free us from fear! To be free of fear we need to grow in revelation of how much He loves us.
Scripture even says, “God is love” – that means He is Love personified! So, why do so many fear Him in the wrong way? Does it have something to do with the way the Gospel is presented with its heaven or hell consequence? I think it also has to do with what I call religious post salvation steps. These religious requirements and expectations keep new (and old) Christians busy, performing, striving to please, and trying to do it right and be right. My goodness, how we don’t know who God really is – all because of a narrow Gospel presentation and religious efforts. Of course, the Enemy has maligned and misrepresented Him since the Garden of Eden. But, praise God, He knows how to draw us into truth and the freedom of His unconditional love and acceptance. Expect to be wowed by the really, really, really, really, really Good News! There is no fear in it – only wonder, awe, and amazement!
Know for certain He does not want you to fear Him – i.e. be afraid or anxious about a mistake, worry that He is watching your every move to ‘get you’ when you goof. That is not God. If you struggle with an unhealthy, false fear of God, then get excited because He is going to free you from that! When you begin to understand the REALLY Good News, all that wrong false fear will flee. He wants His children to be confident in and certain about His love for them. You are called to walk in the true life-giving fear – awe, wonder, and amazement of a stunningly good God.
- Have you ever considered how many times in scriptures when God shows up He says – “Do not be afraid.”
- “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” (Jer 31:3) If you are not drawn towards God, then figure fear is lurking somewhere. Allow Him to show you His unconditional love for you and fear will flee!
- Do not fear, for I am with you’ do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Is 41:10) That is Good News! There is no false fear in HIS Good News! Hey, what is the Good News you believe?
What is the really, really, really, really, really Good News anyway?! Stay tuned.