Thursday, January 10, 2013

"The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom"

There is plenty of evidence in scripture that God is not willing to tolerate anything or everything we think or do, but the fear of God also applies when we are trying to be faithful. Thomas J. Neal, in "Be Afraid":
.... Fear of the Lord is a largely unappreciated gift of the Spirit that, according to Scripture, is the beginning of wisdom. It’s my experience that in preaching and teaching there’s a general tendency to evade all of the dangerous dimensions of faith that threaten our culture’s “I’m okay, you’r okay” ethos, for fear that religion might seem in some way or other to be “negative.”

Fear itself is a natural attitude appropriate in the face of danger, and is associated often with situations that involve some form of risk. Now, there is no doubt that in Scripture we are counseled both to fear God and to not fear God, depending on the context of the counsel. .... But there is another sense in which fear is an apt attitude before the God of infinite awesomeness, grandeur, power, justice and mercy. Being fully aware in the presence of this God, one is motivated to keep the commandments. This mode of fear stands closer to reverence than to cowering or obsequious fear. ....

Holy fear is like the terror of being freely loved by another whose limitless dignity, dreamed into existence by Infinite Mystery, can’t be purchased or stolen but only consented to and reverently received. Such love taught my heart to fear, and such love my fears relieved. ....

...[H]oly fear offers the opportunity to see everything with a mind of reverence, which makes one loathe to trivialize anything or anyone. Second, it sustains a constant awareness that God is attentive to every thought, word and deed.... But for me its most profound effect is in serving as a gentle, yet relentlessly insistent, internal caution against sin; and as a gentle and equally insistent call to repentance after one has sinned. ....
I have revised the introductory sentence having been informed that "Dutch uncle" means the opposite of what I thought it did.

Be Afraid « Neal Obstat Theological Opining
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