Thinking back to the first 18 years of my life as I attended the Catholic Church, I would have described God as distant, unapproachable, and impersonal. I’m not saying the Church taught those things about God — that’s just how I viewed Him back then. Then when I started attending Kensington I swung the pendulum in the opposite direction.
There is a Christian t-shirt that declares “Jesus is my homeboy.” There is an action figure named “Buddy Jesus” where our Savior has both of his thumbs up like Fonzie from Happy Days. While I do not own either of those things, both represent how many Christians, including myself, tend to view our Creator and our Sustainer.
We are comfortable with God . . . maybe too comfortable.
The phrase “fear of the Lord” appears two dozen times in the Bible (see Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and Acts 9:31 for a couple examples). In his DVD Basic: Fear God, Francis Chan shared how anytime he heard a pastor quote a verse on the fear of the Lord, they would say, “Now, when I say ‘fear’ I don’t mean ‘fear.’ It’s more of a respect of God. It’s more of an awe of God.”
Yet, when you read verses in the Bible about the fear of the Lord, it looks like real fear. When people came into contact with God, it didn’t look like just having respect or being in awe.
They were terrified.
In Isaiah 6:1-5, the prophet encounters God and says, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” In Revelation 1:9-17, John says when he saw Jesus, he “fell at his feet as though dead.”
In those verses, Jesus is not John’s “homeboy.” He is not Isaiah’s “buddy.” They realize they are in the presence of their Creator, who could wipe them out of existence without breaking a sweat.
Hebrews 10:19 says, “So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.”” This is an amazing truth! God is personal. God wants to be in relationship with us. But we would do well not to treat this relationship flippantly. I think that’s why the Psalmist did not say that love of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).
Most mornings when I pray, I rush into God’s presence and don’t really think about who I am praying to. In Crazy Love, Francis Chan writes: What if I said “stop praying”? What if I told you to stop talking at God for a while and instead take a long, hard look at Him before you speak another word? Solomon warned us not to rush into God’s presence with words. That’s what fools do. And that’s often what we do . . . Our culture says anything goes; fear of God is almost unheard of. (pp.19, 25)
Before you pray today, don’t rush into His presence. Instead open up your Bible and read Revelation 4:1-11. Spend a few minutes meditating on the way the throne in heaven is described and the picture of the One who sits on that throne. Realize who you are praying to. And then, and only then, begin to pray. I bet you’ll pray a whole lot differently as a result.
***Thanks to Francis Chan’s Crazy Love small group DVD, Crazy Love book, and Basic: Fear God DVD for inspiring this blog post***