Bread — Fear

June 23, 2015

Readings for Tuesday, June 23, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 6:1-16; Acts 5:27-42; Luke 21:37-22:13; Psalms 94, 95, 97, 99, 100


Who do you fear?

This is actually a more profound question than may first appear. In fact, it is the topic of all three of our readings today.

In Samuel, the infidel Philistines feared God and so did what was right before God, even though their religious system did not recognize Him, and they returned the stolen ark to Israel, along with a “guilt offering” for their trespass.

In Acts, Gamaliel, “a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people,” sort of fears God and so he counsels the Jewish council to release the apostles from capture because “if this [the apostles’/Jesus’] plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” Acts 5:34,38-39. Gamaliel knew God well enough and feared Him enough that he knew that God was in control of the outcome and to avoid being opposed to God’s work. Here, Gamaliel did not necessarily “help” God by returning the ark (the apostles) but feared God enough to not oppose Him by keeping the apostles either.

And then, finally, there is our reading from Luke where “the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put Him [Jesus] to death, for they feared the people.” Lk. 22:2. The people were following Jesus rather than them, they feared “the people” and their loss of power and position, and they struck back against God to protect themselves.

In these three readings we are confronted with a certain reality. Those of us who claim Christ, may attend church from time to time, may participate in a “Bible study” as much for its social benefit as its revelation of the Word, and believe that “fundamentalism” is dead or dying because the church needs to “change” to reflect “reality,” really do take Him for granted. Those of us in that category are more afraid of what people may think of us than what God thinks of us; we are more afraid of disgrace, condemnation, death and imprisonment at the hands of man rather than eternal damnation at the hand of God.

Do we, so-called Christians, really fear God. How is it that the unbeliever (the Philistines) and the works-believer (Gamaliel) fear our God more than we do, we who claim to know Him and worship Him and love Him?

We don’t like to use the word “fear” because it is a negative word. If we fear God, the thinking goes, then we will want to run away from Him and not run toward Him. I suggest that the opposite is true. When we truly fear God, what is brought home is the grace-mercy by which we have been saved. When we truly fear God, the enormity of what God did for us on the cross is brought home. When we truly fear God, we have faith in our future because we know that a fearsome God fights for us and will deliver us. A so-so God may not keep His promise; a strong, fearsome God will always keep His promise because it is His nature. The very things which make God fearsome are those things which make Him Lord, Savior, and Redeemer.

So, who do we fear? Man or God.

Choose wisely.


© 2015 GBF


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