Honestly! You put the fear of God into me!

by Richard on November 30, 2006

This was originally posted by Mike Blakey. I’ll be reposting more of his articles over the next day or two.

Before I became a Christian, one of the things that put me off was the doctrine of fear that I perceived to be central to the Christian faith. The promise of God’s love was often lost amongst the tyranny of his condemnation. I couldn’t accept – and frankly, wasn’t scared by – a God who, despite being a God of love, was also a relentless arbiter of suffering. When I posed this concern, people would often explain to me that God is infinitely loving, but also infinitely judgmental. This didn’t wash with me either, and frankly, it still doesn’t. However, in considering exactly what it is that brings us to God, I do wonder how many, in reality, actually live under the fear of suffering rather than the splendour of eternal love.

It often gets to me. You’re going to be judged. There’ll be no arguing; you’ll be cast into the ETERNAL hell-fire. Now, it’s to be considered, but is it to be the catalyst in your accepting the redemption offered you by God? If so – and I can fully understand how it can be – then what can be said about the intentions of a person who is effectively scared into embracing a saviour? Are they really going to benefit from the virtues imparted through God’s love? Are they really developing a faith, or simply a false conviction that removes the fear from their lives but does little to bring them to God?

Now, I’ve been in this situation myself. There have been times when, through listening to others, I’ve changed my ways as a result of fear of recrimination. Now, perhaps this is good; after all, I did the right thing in the end. However, this fear is a temporary thing, and it often requires someone to keep knocking it into the back of your head. It doesn’t provide you with anything tangible; it doesn’t emulate the love of Christ. You can keep a criminal off the streets by threatening him with imprisonment, but you don’t get the genuine effect that comes through rehabilitation, through getting to the heart of the criminal and allowing him/her to feel the errors of his/her ways. So it is with God. He may choose to scare us with a fiery death, but that’s not going to change the people we are; it may change our actions, but it won’t change our intentions.

Only the good news of the love of God, and the saving grace that is there for us to receive, can do this. Only by acting through love can we truly work for the glory of God, and only by living with compassion can we do justice to the sacrifice made for us. To preach a gospel of fear is to remove all that is glorious about our relationship with God, and to deny people the essence of the good news. God is love, and without fear, we should accept him as such.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1

DH 11.30.06 at 8:50 pm

Richard, surprising I do appreciate this post. :) I will say that there is a balance. I personally believe that fear that leads to repentence is the Fear of the Lord “the beginning of wisdom”. However, this fear (which can be in the natural harsh) is not the same thing as physical fear as you describe. However, the fear that scares (physical fear) should never be looked at positively. I see this as more a balance between thetwo as opposed to outright rejection of all fear. Fear of the Lord vs. the Spirit of Fear (”God hasn’t given us a Spirit of Fear but of power and of love and of sound mind” with (”The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”) What do you think Richard? I see it as a balance between physical fear and Grace without fear or Grace without the Fear of the Lord. As you can see both extremes are wrong but I hope my balanced statement keeps us from both extremes and it appears Biblical and consistent with God’s nature throughtout time, OT time throughout NT time. :)

2

Kim 11.30.06 at 11:42 pm

Hi Mike.

Thanks for that. It makes me proud to have been in a chaplaincy team, and among chaplaincy students, who (may we presume?) helped to nurture - and be nurtured by - such a Christian. What else can I say about what you say? How about “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen!” But then that’s taking coal to Newcastle now, isn’t it?

I’d add, “Take care,” but I guess that too is now pretty redundant. But you know what I mean.

PS: Say hello to my dad for me.

Have a great eternity.
Kim
xxx

3

Wood 12.01.06 at 9:11 am

Oh, Mike. You were so honest. The world has so few honest people in it already.

4

Pamela 12.01.06 at 11:59 am

Mike,
You always did have a way of saying what many people think, but no-one can articulate. And of always doing it very profoundly and eloquently.

I hope you knwo that, howevr short your stay with us was, the effects you had on all of us will live on in your honour. We will be different people for having known you, and for that we can only be grateful. And it means, in some small way, that you will live on in us and in our actions. May we make you proud.

5

alice 12.01.06 at 1:27 pm

Dear Michael
I count myself very privileged and blessed to have been part of your life, even so briefly. I am a better person for having known you. We will not let Swansea’s connection with and support for Tong Len die with you.
hugs
alice x

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