The Fear of God

“I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery” (Brennan Manning).

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

The fear of God was the topic of tonight’s sermon from Kairos. I don’t mean fear as in uncontrollable terror, but more as a reverential awe. A healthy fear of God means that I can’t stay comfortable in my own sin, but this God who loves me as I am won’t leave me that way, but does all that is in His power to make me just like Jesus.

This God of the Bible isn’t a daft old grandfatherly type who will wink at your misdeeds and sins. This is the God who is completely Other, whom we could never hope to know if He hadn’t chosen to reveal Himself to us.

My favorite illustration of the fear of God comes from John Piper. He said it’s like witnessing a mighty thunderstorm from the safety of a shelter. You see the majesty and power of the storm but are protected from the danger of it.

This God of love is also a God of holiness. Jesus Himself said that God’s standard is perfection, yet Jesus also met that standard on our behalf. He said not to fear those who can kill the body only, but to fear Him who can kill the body and the soul, namely God.

I’m thankful God poured the wrath that my own sins deserved on Jesus. I hope I never take for granted that my sins always are costly and always bring death in some form. I hope I never lose sight of the wonder and awe and mystery of God who has made Himself known in the person of Jesus.

 

True Wisdom

“Reverence for the Eternal, the one True God, is the beginning of wisdom; true knowledge of the Holy One is the start of understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, VOICE).

This is it. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, or as this version puts it, reverence and awe for God are the beginning of wisdom.

These days, there is a lot of knowledge and a scarcity of wisdom. You can know a lot of facts about a lot of things and it not do you much good. Wisdom is what you do with what you know.

For me, wisdom begins when I admit that I don’t know much. Wisdom happens when I confess that I know a lot less than I thought I did at one point.

The Bible also says that if any of you lack wisdom, let that person ask God, who gives it generously. So maybe I should ask for it more.

I think wisdom starts when I make a declaration of dependence. It’s me acknowledging that  I don’t have all the answers, that I am not Mr. With-It, and that I need help most days. I need God’s help every day.

Ultimately, wisdom is knowing that it’s not about me at all. It’s ultimately about God and what He’s doing in the world.

Wisdom is knowing that failure and mistakes can actually be a good thing if they lead to changed behavior and more of a desperation for God to act on our behalf. Wisdom knows that failure is never fatal but the courage to continue is what counts (one Mr. Churchill also said that a while back).

So I’m praying for wisdom, which is one of the smartest decisions that King Solomon ever made. Marrying all those foreign women? Not so much. Asking for wisdom? You can never ever go wrong with that.