Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fear of God, Love of God -- Are These Reconcilable?

Psalm: Psalms 85: 9 - 14

9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. 10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. 12 Yea, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before him, and make his footsteps a way.

I used to wonder how can I fear God and at the same time love Him. As much as I try to rationalize this I cannot find how fear and love can go together. How can I love someone with all my heart when I fear that same person with all my heart?

To me, fear of God is to fear the Righteous Authority who has all the power to strike me dead anytime for all my unrighteousness; the Holy Bible states that the consequence of sin is death. When God handwrote the Ten Commandments, He was basically saying that if I (and you) cannot follow commandment number 1 or 2 or 3, etc., I will surely die! Not only that. He was also basically saying that I have to obey all the laws. How on earth can I (or you) do all of that? Having sinned much because I am a sinner, I am in constant condemnation and fear of God.

But then I remember Jesus and what he has done on the cross; he willingly received the death penalty that is rightfully my birthright for being a son of a sinner, and for being a sinner myself. How can the righteous and blameless son of God do such an unthinkable thing? When I reflected on his agony in the garden, just prior to his death, when he cried to the Father to take away the cup of suffering from him I am awed by the fact that he foresaw the unimaginable physical and spiritual torment that he was about to endure. Yet he willing went through with it. Why?

The Triune God loves me (and you) more than I (or you) love Him. There are only two plausible explanations I can think of as to why God allowed the death of Jesus on the cross – either God has lost His mind or God loves me (and you) so much. The answer to me is very obvious; God loves me (and you) so much that He took the trouble to device and to execute the Plan of Salvation for me (and you) from the death penalty of our sins. Because I know that God loves me perfectly first then I can love Him back with whatever imperfect love I have within me. (As a human being I find it utterly difficult, if possible at all, to love with all my heart, mind and soul someone who doesn’t love me in return.)

Having a said all of these my conclusion is that I cannot love God and fear Him at the same time. To me that is not humanly possible.

I feared God when I believed that I was still under the law for my righteousness, my ticket to salvation, was obtained by my perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments, and I can’t do that. But I have loved God when I realized that He shredded that old covenant He established with Israel -- God did not erase the Ten Commandments, only the covenant that had the Ten Commandments as stipulation -- and replaced it with a new covenant He established with Jesus.  Under the new covenant, the Covenant of Grace, my righteousness is now obtained not by my own good works, but by my faith in Jesus and his work of salvation in the cross.

When Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light, he literally meant it. By this, I learn to truly love God and follow His ways. I don't fear Him anymore for He is a loving God.

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