12. On the Fear of God

Dear Frazer,

Recently I spoke at length with a woman in a hotel. She was excited to talk with someone about God and spirituality, and at one point exclaimed that she was, “a God-fearing woman.” The notion of which, of course, comes from Proverbs 9:10 which I heard often quoted in religious circles, that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But, is fear really what God wants from us?

I stopped her speaking and pointed out what she had just said.

“Is your experience of God that of fear?” I asked.

“No,” she replied.

“Do you believe that God wants you to feel that way towards him?” I asked again.

“Well, I guess not,” she said.

I shared some of my experience with her. God never forces or coerces me in anything. He is ever patient, waiting for me to catch up or wake up to give me more wisdom, knowledge, and understanding – elements of true change.

If God is love, how do you reconcile that God wants you to fear him with this statement by a disciple of Jesus: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18)

Men use fear to manipulate the behavior of other men. But, and think about this, if you stop behaving a certain way because you believe that God will zap you, then it is an act that you put on when you think you are being watched. As soon as you feel you are alone and safe you will do what you want to do. That, my friend, is hypocrisy.

When you fear someone, they are not truly welcome in your life. You will not share intimately with them, or if you do, it is in limited capacity. Has anyone ever feared you? How did it make you feel? It is repulsive, is it not?

I believe that God is for us. That he would rather we try and get to a state of true change because it is what we want, than fake change because of fear of retribution. And, that he would rather we engage him in a state of love rather than that of fear.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Luke 12: 6,7

My new friend, the woman, saw instantly that, “God-fearing,” and, “loved by God,” are two distinct categories that are incompatible. She expressed a degree of relief and appreciation, because a long standing barrier between her and God as her Father was dismantled in an instant.

It was good to speak with you the other day. It never seems to matter how much time passes. Let me know how your new understanding of your highest and strongest values is impacting your life.

Until then, I am as always here to serve.

The Pilgrim