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by Mark Driscoll
Note to Self: Fear
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
You often fear the wrong things. For example, often you are fearful of conflict, suffering, or the loss of good things like respect or acceptance by certain kinds of people. It is understandable from a worldly perspective, for these things you are afraid of losing are themselves—worldly. This does not mean they are bad, but they are temporal. So many of the things you value are good gifts from God; but they do not last, nor are they supposed to be something from which you find your identity and lasting hope.
The problem with this kind of worldly fear is that it will lead you to toe party lines instead of correcting and challenging the people you are close to. It will compel you to try to live a safe life, free from risk or danger instead of being willing to make the hard and “risky” choice of following Jesus in a culture that rejects him. It will lead you to so prize the good gifts of God that they mutate into idols that you are unwilling to let go of.
You don’t need to be afraid of anything, but you do need to fear your God with a holy reverence. Such “fear” is an aspect of faith that responds to God’s holiness, sovereignty, and transcendence. This higher form of fear is that which leads to awe, adoration, and carefulness of life because of the intimate knowledge of your Maker and Redeemer. What should you fear in life above a holy God who forgives the sins of unholy men like yourself? What can be taken from you? Your possessions can go up in flames, but you have treasure in heaven and stand to inherit the kingdom. Your reputation may be sullied, but you are justified in Jesus. You may be rejected by those you admire, but you are accepted by God. You may be hated, but your Father in heaven loves you with an undying love. What is there in this life to fear?
The fear you need to maintain and cultivate is a fear of God, for in it you will discover wisdom and develop strength that enables you to persevere in faith to the end.
This post is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Joe Thorn's upcoming Re:lit book, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself.