My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments. (Psalm 119:120)

Who’s afraid of the big, bad God? Hardly anybody anymore. Gone are the days of Jonathan Edwards and his “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Gone those draconian days of hellfire and brimstone. Gone the medieval divinity of dungeons and dragons. Gone the days of damnation and unspeakable terror.

What’s there to be afraid of? We’ve got ourselves a God of love who smiles indulgently upon his children, who forgives our every indiscretion, who overlooks our explorations of desire and appetite, who nods understandingly as we enjoy fruit salad from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And we’ve got ourselves a nice savior too: Jesus, the gentle and lowly. He’s mild and meek. As the Bible says, a bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. A guy who can’t blow out a guttering candle isn’t going to make waves. Besides, why would he go through all the trouble to die for us only to turn up the heat? Jesus isn’t a thug; he’s our friend.

God loves us, and as the Bible also says, 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. Anybody who fears God or is afraid of his judgments just doesn’t get it. They’re obsessed with the Old Testament. They don’t understand that when Jesus came God changed. He’s not a freaky killer God anymore; Jesus turned him into the New Testament God. Now he’s a loving Father.

This is what the Good News is all about. If anybody is in Christ, God is a new creator; the old God has gone, the new God has come. He’s no longer obsessed with sin and punishment. The sacrifice of Jesus chilled him out. As Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t be afraid.” Maybe it’s time to put that cranky old Hebrew deity back in the box. We’re 21st century believers for God’s sake. We don’t do fear.

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One Response

  1. Unless, of course, you understand that God was a loving God in the Old Testament, too.

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