Tsunamis and Security

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

“Fear” has been all over the headlines this week – “Earthquakes,” “Tsunamis” and “Nuclear meltdowns.” For a week now these images have displaced the others that usually dominate our imaginations and feed our anxiety. We seem to fear almost everything in this day and age.

However, what about the Lord? Should we “fear” the Lord? Certainly this is not a popular idea in Christianity today. Gone is the fierce God of the Old Testament who spoke amid thunder and lightning and earthquakes. Now we envision a kinder gentler God, less apt to shake up our world, there only to comfort. There are all sorts of things to fear but we don’t fear God anymore.

Yet I read scripture and it reverses that. It says, “Fear God and nothing else. Fear Him and you won’t fear anything else. Start by fearing Him.” Furthermore, this theme is constant throughout the Bible. Certainly the phrase “fear of the Lord” is all over the Old Testament, but not just there. The concept is also in the New Testament. Consider, for example, Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV):

12 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

What about this fear? What does it look like? It is not that we are afraid that God will let us down, or that He is not faithful, or that He is not forgiving. No. It is fear in knowing that God is determined to make us holy, to refine us, to burn away everything that is worthless. If that doesn’t make you tremble, I don’t know what will.

One of my favorite people, Mike Yaconelli explains where we have gone wrong today:

“We have defanged the tiger of truth. We have tamed the lion… The tragedy of modern faith is that we no longer are capable of being terrified. I would suggest that the Church become a place of terror again; a place where God continually has to tell us, “Fear not;” a place where our relationship with God is not a simple belief or doctrine or theology, it is God’s burning presence in our lives. I am suggesting that the tame God of relevance be replaced by the God whose very presence shatters our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes, and strips us naked to reveal the real person within. The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place where nothing is safe in God’s presence except us. Nothing – including our plans, our agendas, our priorities, our politics, our money, our security, our comfort, our possessions, our needs.”

(Mike, nobody ever said it better than you. You are dead but you will never be forgotten.)

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