Fearing the Lord
"Fear the Lord!" In both the Old Testament and the New, we are not only told to fear the Lord, but that it's one of the most important things we can ever do as human beings. It's mentioned at least 8 times in Deuteronomy alone.
We know that those without the grace of Christ should be afraid of a holy God. But it can be a little confusing for Christians to know how to fear the Lord, who we're also told is our loving Father and who we're encouraged to call Abba ("Dad").
The most common way we explain this is that this fear is a "reverent awe." We should be weak-kneed impressed with God and His awesomeness. And that's true.
However, I like how some of the Italian translations of the Bible handle this. They choose the word that we might use with the fear of the unknown, instead of the word they would use for fearing something because you know exactly what it is.
I fear a lion because I know very well what it can do to me. I fear God differently, because His greatness is beyond my ability to imagine. I know He's always good, and I know He will judge all, and I know His judgement on sin is severe. But I can't even fathom how awesome He is.
It's His otherness, His attributes that exceed our comprehension, His mystery that shakes us to the core. With God, it's still a healthy and loving fear, but His nature that is too tremendous to be fully known, and that causes us to react rightly to Him in this fear.
There's another way to understand the right kind of fearing the Lord. We might say that the more we get to know Him, the more He makes us tremble. It's the same kind of trembling we would have if locked in a room with an angry lion, but it's not because we're afraid of being hurt. It's still trembling.
If you're like me, you're too private and too good at self-control to allow yourself to tremble much before the Lord. And I fear we're missing out.
(image: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=473952)