Yesterday, Neal and I took a break between our meetings to walk outside for a few minutes. It helps keep me sane on days when I am at the church for more than twelve hours. As we walked, we were looking at the woods next to the road when Neal started talking about snakes. If you have time, ask Neal about his encounters with snakes over the years. He has some very interesting stories!
I am one of those individuals who really does not like snakes. Last summer, I was walking outside the fence next to the ballfield at the church when I brushed up against a tree branch. I noticed something green fall on my shoulder and then to the ground. It was only then that I realized it was a snake. It happened so fast, I didn't have a chance to experience that reflexive fear that I normally have. I didn't have time to be afraid.
When it comes to fear - the word can mean different things in the Bible. In last Sunday's message I spoke about Jesus telling Simon Peter not to be afraid. "Fear not" is something Jesus, angels, and even God says often. On the other hand, the Bible also says things like "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10) So, which is it - "Do not be afraid" or "Fear God?" Actually, I think it is both.
Because God is love, we do not need to be afraid that God is always "out to get us." That is fear as in being afraid of something or someone. On the other hand, I believe there is an appropriate sense of awe we should feel and express simply because God is God. Maybe it is the kind of awe we feel when we look out over the Grand Canyon, or we stand on a mountaintop at night and get a good glimpse of the stars in the Milky Way. This kind of fear is reverence and awe.
This Sunday we will be looking at a story where both kinds of fear are present.
See you then!
Prayer for Today
Awesome God, we remember that you tell us to "fear not." In faith we trust you that we do not have to live our lives in fearful anxiety. Yet, we sometimes forget that you are the Creator of our world and the one and only God. Help us to have an appropriate reverence for who you are. Thank you for caring enough to love us. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.