be not afraid?

A while ago, I wrote about God’s consistent
word to us, “Do not be afraid.”

So I was asked, “What about Proverbs 1:7?:
‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction’?”

Whereupon I engaged in a little research,
and asked myself,

What about Deuteronomy 10:12?
What does the Lord your God require of you?
Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways,
to love him, to serve the Lord your God
with all your heart and all your soul,
and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God.
and Deuteronomy 10:20?
You shall fear the Lord your God ….
What about 1 Samuel 12:24?
Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully ….
What about Job 28:28?
Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom ….
What about Psalm 19:9?
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
Psalm 25:14?
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him.
Psalm 33:8?
Let all the earth fear the Lord.
Psalm 34:11?
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Psalm 103:17?
But the steadfast love of God is from everlasting
to everlasting on those who fear him.
Psalm 111:10?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding”?
Psalm 112:1?
Happy are those who fear the Lord.
Psalm 128:1?
Happy is everyone who fears the Lord.
What about Proverbs 9:10:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight”?
What about Proverbs 15:33:
“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
and humility goes before honor”?
What about Proverbs 14:26-27?
In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence ….
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
What about Ecclesiastes 12:13?
Fear God and keep God’s commandments,
for that is the whole duty of everyone.
What about Isaiah 8:12-13?
The Lord of hosts you shall regard as holy,
let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
and Isaiah 11:2-3?
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
What about Jeremiah 5:22?
“Do you not fear me?” says the Lord.
What about Acts 9:31?
… living in the fear of the Lord ….
What about 2 Corinthians 7:1?
… making holiness perfect in the fear of God.
What about Hebrews 10:31?
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
What about 1 Peter 1:17?
… live in reverent fear ….

What about Annie Dillard?
“On the whole, I do not find Christians,
outside of the catacombs,
sufficiently sensible of conditions.
Does anyone have the foggiest idea
what sort of power we so blithely invoke?
Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it?
The churches are children playing on the floor
with their chemistry sets,
mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning.
It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats
and velvet hats to church;
we should all be wearing crash helmets.
Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares;
they should lash us to our pews.
For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense,
or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”

What about Mike Yaconelli?
“I would like to suggest that the Church
become a place of terror again;
a place where God continually has to tell us,
‘Fear not’; a place where our relationship with God
is not a simple belief or a doctrine or theology,
it is God’s burning presence in our lives.
I am suggesting that the tame God of relevance
be replaced by the God whose very presence
shatters our egos into dust, burns our sin into ashes,
and strips us naked to reveal the real person within.
The Church needs to become a gloriously dangerous place
where nothing is safe in God’s presence except us.
Nothing—including our plans, our agendas,
our priorities, our politics, our money, our security,
our comfort, our possessions, our needs.”

Well, … I don’t know!
Too much too important to dismiss.

But it requires more than just quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,
adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
and Oscar Wilde:
“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.’

For our faith often requires of us the simultaneous affirmation
of juxtaposed truths—
be they of transcendence and immanence,
of unconditional acceptance and high expectations,
or of being afraid and not being afraid.

So, maybe?, be afraid—be appropriately afraid
of the God who says, “Do not be afraid!”
And then do not be afraid of anything or anyone else.


3 thoughts on “be not afraid?

  1. I think paradox is the inevitable consequence of a finite mind trying to describe the infinite and incomprehensible. Any description that doesn’t respect the paradox can only be partial.

    1. I agree, Grover, and I like the way you phrased it: any description that does not respect the paradox can only be partial. thanks.

  2. “…Aslan is a lion–the Lion, the great Lion.”

    “Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

    “That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

    “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

    “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.” (pp. 75-76)


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