Fear of God

When I was a young child, I got several nasty cuts across my fingers when I tried to lift up a half-opened lid from a can. While the cuts healed fairly quickly, the fear of can lids followed me for a long time.

Fear can be crippling, and what causes fear in one person may seem downright silly to others.

The reality is, fear can be rational and understandable, and it can be irrational and make no sense at all.

The word fear is found 365 times in the Scriptures. In many places, particularly in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), fear is defined as respect, awe, and obedience for God. In other places in Scripture, fear is associated with pending judgement or punishment from God. There are also many places in scripture where fear is contrasted with faith.

The spread of COVID-19 has caused a significant amount of fear around the world. For many, this fear seems to be overblown and unnecessary, especially when compared to this year’s prominent flu strain. However, large gatherings, schools, and even entire countries are being closed, cancelled, or quarantined because of the fear that the virus may spread, causing catastrophic loss of life.

I do not believe nor fear, as is suggested by some, that COVID-19 is God’s judgement on the world. I do believe that in times such as these, we are reminded that we are called to fear God, as we aspire to live out our faith with respect, awe, and obedience. And the best way we can do this is to lean into living our lives in a place of faith rather fear.

Our faith is grounded in loving our neighbors as ourselves, striving to live a life where we care for those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, standing up to any who use fear as a tool to diminish, marginalize, or harm others. We are called to be good stewards of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: minds to think, hearts to love, and hands to serve. Our faith asks us to make wise, loving choices that bring healing and comfort rather than anxiety and distress.

This is a Beloved Community moment, my friends. May we have the strength and courage to follow in the Way of Jesus.

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