"Fear. It was fear that killed my parents. On the far side of the world, I tasted fear in it’s purest form and thought I’d conquered it. But, fear followed me home...” - Batman
I have to make a confession; I am afraid of most animals. I think they are all cute and stuff, but at the end of the day I want to keep myself at a distance and be ready in case they attack. Perhaps my fear of animals is silly and I just need to get over my dog destroying my G.I. Joes when I was a little boy, but don’t we all have fears?
What do you fear?
Fear will always cause a person to react. If you are afraid of getting pulled over by a cop, you will drive slower. If you are afraid of getting caught cheating, you will either avoid cheating or be more secretive about it. Fear might cause you to run away or it might cause you get ready to fight. Depending on how you view God, you might look at him with fear. If the thought of God causes you to be afraid, it will cause you to react. You might react by rebelling against him, you might react by ignoring him, or you might even react by doing what he says with hopes that you might appease him.
If you are afraid of God, what do when something bad happens? Certainly fear would lead you to think, “Perhaps God is punishing me.” In 1 Kings 18, there are a group of prophets worshipping their god in hopes that they will get him to pay attention. They shout, they dance, the cut themselves. But nothing. In their view of god, what do they do? Was their god too tired? Was he busy dealing with somebody more important? Did they screw something up and he didn’t care anymore?
“In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” - 1 John 4:17-19
We don’t need to be afraid of God. We can approach him confidently because of what we know about him. While we are certainly sinners, because of the fact that Jesus suffered and died to pay the price for our sins, we can approach God confidently knowing that our relationships have been made right with him. Because of Jesus, we don't need to be afraid. The sacrifice of Jesus drives out this feeling of being afraid that might creep into our relationship with Him.
At the same time, Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” This is another kind of fear. This is the fear that looks at God in awe and reverence. This is the fear that doesn’t cause us to react in a way that’s afraid of God but in a way that trusts God. The devil seeks to drive us to being afraid. He seeks to make us afraid, which might lead us to react in anger or rebellion. But God seeks to drive out that kind of fear and instead drive us to a fear that trusts because “He first loved us.”