By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever” (Psalm 111:10).
“Hallelujah! Happy is the man who fears the Lord, taking great delight in His commandments” (Psalm 112:1)
“At that time those who feared the Lord spoke to one another. The Lord took notice and listened. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Yahweh and had high regard for His name” (Malachi 3:16-17).
These are just a few verses. There are many more.
What has happened to the concept of fearing God?
Years ago, many non-Christians were careful about what they said about God. Though they were not believers, they had a healthy respect for who God was. They might make fun of Christians, but they stopped short of mocking God. That is no longer the case today. People still ridicule Christians and their beliefs, but they also dishonor and disrespect God in doing so.
A few weeks ago Joy Behar of ABC’s “The View” made fun of Vice President Mike Pence who publicly acknowledges that he talks with God and that God talks with him. Behar said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. … That’s called mental illness.”
Steve York, a longtime friend and Sunday School teacher at Tulip Grove Baptist Church in Old Hickory, wrote a “letter” to his class after that program aired that addressed the issue. He shares it in a guest column on page 11. It’s well worth the read and a reminder for Christians to not allow attacks on Christianity to go unchallenged.
Another case is a photo that actually has been making the rounds for years, but resurfaced on Facebook last week. It depicts a man holding a sign that says, “If Jesus returns, kill Him again.” He even has a website with that name. I can’t bring myself to mention his name, but the comments he makes on that website will make you cringe. How can anyone publicly ridicule God in such a way? It says a lot about God that He has not “zapped” that individual.
God is mocked and ridiculed in all aspects of society. It has become outrageous, but that is the world in which we live. There is no fear of God, certainly among non-believers. And, I’m not sure if believers have the fear of God that we need.
Fearing God is not being afraid God will “zap” you the first time you make a mistake or do something wrong. God knows we’re sinners and have been since Adam and Eve. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross — to take our sins upon Himself and provide everlasting life to those who confess their sins and ask for forgiveness.
God does not want us to be scared of Him. He does want us to be in reverence and in awe of who He is. He also wants us to be in a loving, healthy relationship with Him based on love, faith, and trust. As the Bill Gaither hymn reminds us, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living, just because He lives!”
Oswald Chambers, a 20th century Scottish evangelist and teacher known for his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, said it well. “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”
Another theologian named Hugh Black basically said the same thing, “The fear of God kills all other fears.”
As Christians, we should fear God because of who He is and what he represents.
As I reflect on the disrespect for God and Christianity, I shouldn’t be surprised. Proverbs 1:7 (HCSB) clearly explains the situation in our world today: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”