Fear God?

… The devil puts little deaths before us. Lie or lose your job. Cheat or lose your grade. Say nothing or lose your friendship. Change your conviction or lose your status. Whatever it is—the fear of death, the fear of loss, the fear of shame—fear is sitting behind the devil’s treat. When we are afraid, he’s got us tied up.

Fear is worship, at least part of worship. This is why the commandment “You shall have no other gods” is explained “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things” ([Luther’s] Small Catechism, First Commandment). The Bible is full of references to fear, especially the fear of the Lord. This fear is exclusive. When He says, “Fear Me,” He means, “Fear Me alone. Fear Me only.” He intends to cast out all other fears.

When suffering or pain says, “You should fear me,” we respond, “I fear God.”

When loss comes along, or shame, and asks us to be afraid, we say, “I fear God.”

When the devil trots up and says, “You should be afraid of me,” we say, “Nope, my fear belongs to God.”

One thing after another comes alone and tempts us to worship with our fear, and the Christian says, “My fear belongs to God.”

This is what Jesus is getting at when He says, “I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that they have nothing more that they can do, But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).

When death comes demanding the worship of fear, we say, “I fear God, God alone. There is no fear left for you.” When our fear goes to God, something wonderful happens—actually, three wonderful things. One, there is no fear left for anything else. Two, there is no need to fear anything else, because, three, the Lord turns to us who fear Him and says, “Don’t be afraid.” Over and over He says it. Jesus says it to the disciples, “Don’t be afraid”; to His Church, “Do not fear.” When we, at last, fear God, then God comes to us and says, “I’m nothing to be afraid of. I love you. I’ve redeemed you. You belong to Me. Your life is in My hands. You will live with Me forever. Don’t be afraid.” This perfect love of God for us casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18),

There is, then, a fearlessness to the Christian life.

Bryan Woilfmueller, A Martyr’s Faith in a Faithless World, 95-96