God and The Christian's Fear of Him
1 John 4:18 NLT
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
I have had many conversations with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Some can be accessed publicly through comments on my posts, others were more private affairs. In all of my conversations, debates, and so on I find that most Christians believe that God is going to judge them at the end of days. They believe God is charting their sins, continually pointing His long intruding finger upon their many blemishes, demanding they change, try harder, and ultimately reform. God, to these poor souls, acts as some moral policeman, writing them up continually for their myriad of daily infractions. What confuses me is how the concept of the sacrifice of Jesus seems entirely absent from the theology of these imprisoned Christians.
These are living their lives dictated not by the indwelling Spirit of God, but rather by the merciless and ferocious screams of their own condemned and guilt ridden souls. These are those who fear, who expect punishment, who have snuggled up with shame and renamed it "God."
John is quite explicit here, the love of God removes all fear of punishment, judgement, or guilt before Him. Why? Because God actually believes that the blood of His Son was indeed more than sufficient for securing a complete pardon for any and all of our sins, trespasses, and mistakes. I will speak rather boldly here: Fear of God, in any capacity as a believer, is not a sign of piety, but rather sign that you simply do not know His love. Fearing that one day God is going to get you is simply a sad misunderstanding of who He is and who you are to Him. God is not a burning flame of pure fury waiting to consume you for your treachery, rather He is the one who came running while you were still afar off. The one who embraces you, and falls on your neck with kisses (Lk 15:20). He is the one who chose to exchange His own life for yours.
If God went through all that pain and suffering for us, why on earth would we ever think that He is going to turn on us to destroy us? This is pure madness! God did not hoodwink us by dying for us in order to make us slaves. God doesn't require your service or good deeds. In fact the scandal of the gospel is that our God, a God of selfless love, came to serve us, giving His life for us (Mk 10:45). He is the One who acts as our Shepherd, nurturing us, laying His life down for us (Ps 23:1-3; Jn 10:11). He welcomes us into His tent, and serves us joyfully (Ps 23:5)!
Our God is our Father not our heartless tyrant. He is selfless generous love, seeking the benefit of the object of His affection. To fear God is to display that we simply do not know Him. We have not taken the time to hang out with Him and become familiar with Him. We have not meditated on the cross and its implications. It is the purpose of Christian living to know Him personally and learn to be more open to His loving advances. Yet if we continue to keep the wall of fear, shame, and condemnation between us and Him, then we will never experience to quality of life Christ paid for us to enjoy.