Friday, October 23, 2009

Fear God? – 1 Peter 1:17

Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. (NIV)

I call God my Father. That should be quite a sobering thought and action. A good son should emulate his father. There is a phrase that I haven’t heard for a long time, “He is a chip off the old block.” The reference is to a child who looks and acts like his dad. It also used to be a matter of honor that a son would follow in the footsteps of his father. I wonder if names like Wilson, Johnson, and other were carried on because that son acted and behaved in accordance with his father Will or John. I would like to think that since I have been adopted into a new family (Eph 1:5, 3:14,15) that I would want bring honor to that family in my actions. My new family name is Christian – which means little Christ.

Many of the Jews that challenged Jesus claimed to have God as their Father. (John 8:41) First they claimed Abraham as their father in verse 39, but Jesus confronted them to act like Abraham and not try to kill Him. They then appealed to God as their Father. Jesus responded by saying that if they had God as their Father then they would Love Jesus. Jesus even went so far as to say that they had the devil as their father in verses 42-44. Jesus’ argument concludes with John 8:47 “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God." (NIV)

I have to take a little side trip here to simply state that I’ve met people who claim to love God but don’t want to have anything to do with Jesus. Based on Jesus conversation with His detractors, I have some bad news for anyone who thinks of Jesus as less than God in the flesh and the only way to God the Father. You are on the wrong path and it isn’t leading to heaven. (John 14:6)

I think that this is where the reverent fear comes in. I know that God isn’t going to judge me on the curve. He isn’t going to weigh my life on some kind of scale that balances out the good and bad to see if I’m worthy of heaven. He is going to look at me and if He finds even one thing that is wrong, I’m under a sentence of death. That is absolutely scary. Have I been listening to what God says? Do I call Him Father but am I like the Pharisees who sought to justify themselves by their observance of man-made traditions? If so then I should have a deathly fear of God.

Of course as I’ve already discussed that it isn’t by my good works that I’m saved and Peter will go into that even more in the next few verses. I just want to get a good grasp on the fact that without Jesus’ sacrifice, I should be deathly afraid of God and His judgment. However, in light of the fact that I am saved, that horrible fear changes to a reverent fear. What’s the difference? It is the knowledge that without Jesus, without His forgiveness, my Father in heaven would not spare me. However I also know the love that God has for me. Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (NASB)

Sometimes, I forget about the awesomeness of God and I’m caught up in the brotherhood of Jesus and being in the family of Christ so that the Father becomes a bit to “familiar.” I should still hold Him in great respect. Yes, I can come before the throne of grace with confidence (Heb 4:16) but that confidence shouldn’t cause me to come with a disrespectful attitude. There is a balance I want to achieve between the tender mercies of my Father who will someday wipe away every tear (Rev 7:17, 21:4) and the knowledge that without Jesus I would be horribly lost.

I want to life to bring honor to my Father, and that means I need to have the proper respect for Him.

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