by Meredith Mills
Of all the activities we do as a family, reading together is one of my favorite. We’ve sailed to faraway lands, met giants and even escaped from a cyclops. We’ve been imprisoned with missionaries, dined with royalty and ridden a flying horse. Oh, the adventures we’ve had!
The best books, my favorite books, are those which sprinkle life lessons and spiritual truths throughout the stories. We’re currently reading one such book – The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis.
I love the chapter we read today, where the Pevensie children and their beaver friends discuss an upcoming meeting with Aslan, the Lion King of the magical land of Narnia. The children have never met Aslan, so the Beavers are preparing them for their introduction. Here’s how the conversation goes:
“Is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man?” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not…Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan…“Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver… “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
I want to cheer when I read those words. In Aslan lies a breathtaking picture of the Lion of Judah, our King Jesus.
He is not safe, as some count safety. He takes sin seriously – Scripture records the devastating effects of His anger toward those who persist in evil. He is not to be approached without reverence. Even demons tremble before Him and will one day bow in forced surrender.
But, oh, how good He is.
Over and over, Scripture tells of His anger restrained by His compassion, even stating that mercy triumphs over judgment. This mercy led Him to the cross, where justice was satisfied through the death of the Innocent One in place of the guilty.
He is not safe, but He is good.
Yet this comforting truth leaves me with the following question, one I’ve honestly been pondering for the past several years:
Where does the “fear of God” fit into the life of a believer?
On the one hand, we are told that “as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love” (I John 4:17-18 NLT).
On the other hand, we are urged to, “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV).
So are Christians to live in fear of an unsafe God?
Should His goodness lead us to carefree living?
The most poignant illustration I’ve heard on this subject was shared by our pastor in church recently. He told of a young boy taunted by his friends when he refused to join in their naughty behavior. Finally, an older boy said, “You’re just afraid that your dad will hurt you if you do it.”
His reply ought to echo in each of our hearts. “No, I’m not afraid he will hurt me. I’m afraid of hurting him.”
Love. Fear of grieving His heart. Jealousy over our relationship with Him. Such devotion should be the current that directs a life of faith.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how believers ought to fear God this side of Calvary. Please comment below – let’s get to know Him better together!
Today’s post is based on the following Scripture verses: Psalm 78, James 2:19, Philippians 2:10, Psalm 30:5, Psalm 78:38, Psalm 103:8-13, James 2:13, 1 Peter 3:18.