Pentecost Countdown Day 6: Fear of the Lord

 
Fear of the Lord (wonder and awe): with the gift of fear of the Lord we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love. This gift is described by Aquinas as a fear of separating oneself from God. He describes the gift as a "filial fear," like a child's fear of offending his father, rather than a "servile fear," that is, a fear of punishment. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10 || Proverbs 1:7;9:10) because it puts our mindset in correct location with respect to God: we are the finite, dependent creatures, and He is the infinite, all-powerful Creator.

I ran across and article today, called "Ten Ridiculous Christian Right Prophecies." Aside from its subtle tone of snarky "faith-shaming," the piece was kind of fun to read. Among the prophecies were Pat Robertson's claim that Mitt Romney would win the 2012 presidential election and a rumor circulating among the religious right that on March 23 of this year, that "RFID microchips, the Mark of the Beast, will be implanted in all Americans". Well, Obama won, and I still don't set off security alarms when I walk through doors.

Fear of the Lord, to a certain subset of Christians is a hope rather than a worry. They hope that people will be scared enough to start acting right and maybe to support their particular political agenda.But FOTL seems a paltry thing if it is just used to scare us. It seems that a loving Father would be above the need to frighten people into "goodness." Is it really goodness if you are forced into it at the point of a pitchfork?

Christians in particular and all religious people in general ought to be worried about their certainties. This is hard work, but religioun means constant struggle -- constant working out of the relationship between self and God, and self and the scriptures and self and neighbor. Anyone who says that have it figured out -- especially when having that means thinking oneself completely in the right and others in the wrong -- ought to take a step back and examine their conscience. No person can be completely right; so when something thinks that have all the answers, they are, by definition, wrong, having equated their own standard of right and wrong with that of omniscient God.

There are two standards for right relationship with God and man -- and Jesus nailed it in Mark 12:
One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
I would challenge those who think they know the mind of God, and that they are in his good graces, to bear these two commandments in mind. Putting oneself in the place of God -- doling out punishments and threats, are in violation of the first commandment. Those who deny their neighbors the justice due them are in violation of the second.