Posts Tagged With: 1 John 4:18

God’s Holiness. IV: Holy Reverence, the Fear of the Lord

An important key to expressing God’s holiness in your life is to recognize Him as holy and worthy of reverence:

“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth…” (1 Peter 1:17).

Photo courtesty of PxHere, published under a Creative Commons License.

In Revelation, a multitude of Christians in heaven says He should be feared:

“And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED’” (Revelation 15:3–4).

Many Christians have eradicated the fear of the Lord in our lives. Our worship exalts our feelings; we enjoy the bouncy music and uplifting feel-good message of the lyrics. We think God’s main responsibility is to make us feel good about ourselves, build up our self-esteem, and remove any sense of guilt. If God’s Word says anything that makes us uncomfortable, we try to rephrase it to suit our opinions, ignore it entirely, or claim that we know better than He does. Many Christians think they can mold God into whatever image they desire.

“Fear of the Lord” does not mean we expect God to beat us up over every little misstep and mistake. He is our Father, but He is not the abusive kind of father who comes home drunk and starts beating the kids for no good reason. He does not want us to fear Him like that. In fact, the true love of God casts out that kind of fear (1 John 4:18).

Here is how I can best illustrate the fear of the Lord. Like most Long Islanders, I drive slightly above the posted speed limit at times. However, if I see a police car along the side of the road, I will take my foot off the accelerator. I respect the police officer. I know he can pull me over and write me a ticket if he catches me speeding.

I do not live in fear of police officers, though. The same cop who inspired me to slow down on the road may be the one whom I was chatting with while standing in line in a coffee shop a few minutes earlier. The badge, uniform, and car do not scare me. However, they do remind me that it is in my best interests to show them some respect.

So it is with God. We know that He is always with us. We know that He knows everything. We should know that He is holy. But, do we respect Him? Do we give Him the honor He deserves? Or, do we try to reduce Him to our level? The Bible tells us that God made humans in His image (Genesis 1:26–27), but we often try to reshape Him into our image.

Do you believe God is holy? Are you aware that He is always with you? If so, live as though you believe that. One of the classic writings of Christian spirituality is a short book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God. Practice that presence. Live with the awareness that He is always with you since He dwells within you. In so doing, you will be inspired to live in a way that allows His holiness to shine forth from within you.

Do you respect God? How can you cultivate a genuine respect for Him in your life? Feel free to share by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2020 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, God's Holiness, God's Majestic Attributes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coronavirus, Faith and Fear, Wisdom and Folly

“Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen” (Book of Common Prayer).

The Book of Common Prayer’s collect for the day on the third Sunday in Advent was very fitting this year. As I write this post, Americans are living in anxiety, if not outright fear. People are rushing to stores to buy whatever they can to prepare for quarantine due to the spread of a new strain of coronavirus, known as COVID-19. Good luck finding toilet paper; apparently, some people think you need 666 rolls if you are going to be stuck in your house for two weeks. Hand sanitizer is also hard to find; some online sellers have charged over $100 for one-liter bottles that sold for under $20 not very long ago. One pair of brothers hoarded about 17,700 bottles, clearing out countless stores’ inventories of the products, to sell them at highly inflated prices online. Amazon and Ebay have removed his listings; too bad the local stores did not start limiting sales of these items earlier.

Now, schools are closing: some for two weeks, others for a few months, and a few colleges have ended their spring semesters prematurely. Sports leagues have postponed games or prematurely ended their seasons. We suddenly know the meaning of the new term, “social distancing.” Handshakes and kisses on the cheek during the passing of the peace at my church have been replaced by elbow bumps; I have not banged elbows with so many guys since my days playing youth hockey. Some businesses are closing their doors until further notice; others are encouraging employees to work from home.

Some may say that all of this caution is unnecessary. After all, many more people have died in the USA from the flu this winter than have died worldwide from COVID-19 since it was first identified in December. This is the first time that I recall public health officials going beyond the standard advice (wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, stay home when sick, etc.) to pushing for mass quarantines.

The precautions may seem extreme, but I will do my part to avoid the disease. My greatest concern, though, is about the proliferation of irrational fear in response to this disease. So, here are a few thoughts worth considering:

  • Humanity has survived worse epidemics and pandemics throughout history. The bubonic plague killed perhaps one-fourth to one-half of the population of Europe in just a few years during the fourteenth century. A little over one hundred years ago, the Spanish flu took more lives than any other pandemic in history. (A little trivia for my fellow sports’ fans who are bemoaning cancellations: That flue pandemic forced the cancellation of hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals mid-series after Montreal Canadiens’ star Joe Hall died of the disease and several other players fell ill.)
  • Most people will not catch the virus. China has had a little over 80,000 confirmed cases. While that is a lot, remember that it has over one billion people, and the city where COVID-19 was first diagnosed, Wuhan, has almost nine million. That means that less than 1% of the people of Wuhan have caught the disease. It is possible that the number of cases in China was reduced by aggressive social-distancing practices.
  • Most people who catch the disease will recover. Less than 4% of confirmed cases worldwide have died so far. If you calculate all who have died and those who have fully recovered, the mortality rate is about 7.25% worldwide. The vast majority of deaths have been the elderly and others with underlying health conditions or weakened immunity. Most otherwise-healthy people who catch COVID-19 eventually recover. We should take wise careful precautions, especially for the sake of elderly and unhealthy friends, family, and neighbors. However, we should not act crazy as if the world is about to end.

Christians must avoid the temptation to spread fear and falsehood. Whenever a disaster or possible threat arises, some Christians will claim it is the end of the world and spread extreme, exaggerated, or absolutely untrue statements in the name of “discernment” or “prophecy.” Some have even claimed that Bill Gates owns the patent for this disease and is using it for some diabolical agenda! Such people should be forced to place a dunce cap on their Facebook profile pictures. It is true that Gates’ foundation has funded research involving genetic engineering of coronaviruses. However, there are numerous kinds of coronavirus, and the ones he has funded have been patented as vaccines. (Actually, many viruses and bacteria are genetically engineered and patented for medical purposes.) They are not the same as COVID-19. Christians must repent of their godless practice of spreading falsehoods to promote an end-time agenda. Making up lies about people—even if they are celebrities or politicians, and even if they have promoted questionable or immoral activities like abortion—is a sin. God is not glorified when His people violate the biblical commandment against bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16). If you have joined in sharing or posting such libel, confess your sins and repent.

Likewise, Christians must not join in promoting an environment of fear. Yes, we should take necessary precautions, but we should not instill fear in people. Our mission is always to advance the kingdom of God by sharing His love, grace, and mercy. He calls us to bring hope. He calls us to speak life into the hearts of others. He does not call us to instill fear. Be prepared to minister in faith, hope, and love to those around you.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18, ESV).

“… {F}or God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV).

Copyright © 2020 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Current events | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: