Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | May 3, 2012

The Fear of God

The fear of God is one of those things that’s just… well… a problem when you try to define what it is. This seems the case not because we don’t know what fear is, but because I think we have an incomplete or shifting understanding of who God is. Sometimes it’s one thing, sometimes it’s another. Fact is… sometimes it’s just like knowing anyone where the experience depends on who we are, and the circumstances when and how we encounter the other. And so I guess it’s no surprise that when we fell upon the phrase in my Bible study class earlier this spring… the whole of the group was paused. Even our team leader was at a loss to pin it down with any precision.

And so it’s good to see Elder Thaddeus come riding to the rescue… especially since his sense tends more towards how I would prefer… in that it differs from our sense of fear based on terror of what the other might do to me rather than my desire to please the one I love. But of course… it may well be that these two senses are simply like the twin natures of Christ… and these is and can be no single understanding. Perhaps. Anyway, here’ Elder Thaddeus’s view:

“The fear of God is not the animal-like fear of this world.Our fear is like that, and we must strive to conquer this. Such fear is from hades. Our life is filled with fear. We fear what tomorrow will bring, what the future has in store for us… That is an animal-like fear. The fear of God is when you love Him, when you truly love Him with all your heart and you strive never to offend or sadden Him – not only with your deeds, actions, and words, but also with your thoughts. You try to please Him in everything you do or say. That is the fear of God – the fear of doing anything that might sadden or offend our Parent.” “Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives“, “On Serving God and Neighbor”, pp 97 -98.

If the Resurrection helps us to overcome the fear of death, if the worship of heaven helps us overcome the fear of eternity… then our faith is directed at over coming our fears. Fear seems the very thing behind so many of our sins, the doubt that there is really nothing rather than something. And fear can readily nail us into a sort of inaction, a sort of depression we might not even realize we have. If there is nothing, than all that matters is what I can cure that sense of absence by making more of what I can touch and see “mine”… or at least “mine for  now”. But to complete the picture the fear comes back… as the only good fear is the fear of filling this absence with anything other than the experience of God. And if this is so, then perhaps there is almost always a way in which something given to us may be directed and used rightly… but so many others in which it is not. And the discernment to find this path easy for some, but harder for so many of us to find – let alone follow.

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