We live in an age that suffers from a lack of the fear of God. That statement may surprise some of you at first hearing. How can a lack of fear be something bad? Doesn’t the Bible say that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18)? In fact, most churches today go to great lengths to assure people that when they come to church there will be absolutely nothing to be afraid of. For example, one evangelical church advertises their services as follows:
“At———you’re free to enjoy yourself.
Enjoy God as you experience Him through the timely message, caring people, and inspiring music. And it’s okay to laugh at church—in fact we encourage it! We’ve got a casual atmosphere where you can enjoy your morning with a cup of Starbucks House Blend, a donut and some new friends.”
In such churches, worship services increasingly seem to resemble coffee shops more than encounters with a holy God. While I’m sure that the people at this church mean well, their advertisement is certainly not designed to encourage the fear of God. Rather, they suggest that worshiping God is a casual and non-threatening activity, an enjoyable and fulfilling experience for everyone. They make coming into the presence of Almighty God sound like the spiritual equivalent of a visit to a favorite uncle.
Duguid does go on to talk about fearing God in a biblical way:
“The true fear of the Lord flows out of an understanding of the whole character of God as both holy and merciful. …Our hearts must be filled with reverent fear as we contemplate the cost of our redemption [in Christ]. We must be touched with fresh wonder at the new and eternal life in God’s presence that was purchased for us. Then we will be prepared to stand in God’s presence and worship him.”
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015