More Fear - Less Suffering?  

Posted by archie

I feel a bit like Moses who declined leadership because he was slow of speech. Previous heartfelt intellectual postings tend to make me really shy to post this question. But, I figure there are other leaders who like myself communicate on a much simpler plain. Not less insightful, just simpler.

Admittedly, this blog is for leadership discussion. So maybe you can patiently consider a simple question. I've been speed reading the Bible and have made it to 2 Samuel. It occurs to me that God seems to be really pleased when leaders of the old testament fear him. It also seems to follow that when leaders fear God, they tend to not suffer as much.

So the question is: If we as new testament believers / leaders feared God more, would we likely suffer less? Obviously, if the answer is yes the next question follows: "What does it mean to fear God?" As a leader, this question deserves some "CLARITY".

Signed,
Simple minded in Omaha

This entry was posted at Tuesday, February 26, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

11 thoughts and responses

Hey, Omaha, I would say that while God wants us to fear him, I don't think that would necessarily have any impact on our suffering in life. Suffering can be a result of our bad choices, but it can also be a result of the sheer existence of evil in the world, or even a part of the "pruning" process God uses to mold and shape us.

We should have a clear understanding (as clear as possible, anyway) as to the nature and character of God, and it should cause fear, but fear mixed with faith that in Jesus God now calls us friends and not just servants.

February 26, 2008 at 8:30 PM

I'm thinking God uses suffering to bring me closer to Him. If the fear of God brings me closer, why the need for suffering? Why don't I bypass the whole ordeal of suffering and just FEAR God?

Abraham said, "I just assumed that there was no fear of God in this place and that they'd kill me to get my wife..... The Word

Omaha says, "No fear leads to sin. Sin leads to suffering".

"And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who FEAR God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—and appoint them as LEADERS.... The Word

Omaha says, "The fear of God is an important component to being a leader".

If you FEAR God, worship and obey him, and don't rebel against what he tells you..... God will be sure to save you. The Word

Omaha says, "It seems without fear of God, rebellion is a natural component of life".

I choose to fear God. I just can't separate what I've been taught as an affluent blessed churched American against the truth of what a healthy Biblical fear of God is.

So I have to differ with your statement, "that while God wants us to fear him, I don't think that would necessarily have any impact on our suffering in life".

May God bless the simple minded in Omaha

February 27, 2008 at 8:41 AM

Avoiding suffering should not be our objective in life. We should seek to love God with our heart, sole, mind and body. In other words seek intimacy with God. Many times suffering helps us draw closer to God. All of the great men and women of faith suffered for their faith and many such as Paul grew to know Christ better because of it. When we live our lives trying to avoid pain, then we live in scarcity and our ability to love God and love others is diminished considerably.

February 27, 2008 at 10:41 AM

mind, body and soul...not sole, but we should also be foot soldiers for Christ.

February 27, 2008 at 10:46 AM
Anonymous  

I fillet of sole one time. Not bad.

February 27, 2008 at 1:26 PM

Archie, that's interesting. I guess we do choose to fear God, but my experience and (it seems to me) the experience of those in the Bible didn't so much as "choose" to fear God as they encountered God and were afraid. Very afraid.

Sometimes we suffer because of our unbelief or sin. So if fearing God leads us to have faith and/or repent from sin, it would certainly alleviate that suffering.

Sometimes we suffer for our faith. And I would still maintain that suffering of that kind will not be alleviated by fearing God.

February 27, 2008 at 7:49 PM

John and Arnie, Thank you for your wisdom (God's supernatural application of knowledge). I believe all of what you say is true and insightful.

It's true we should not avoid suffering. Nor should we go out of our way to find it. But, when we encounter it we should embrace it. Thanking God that obedience and faithfulness in it will produce a closer relationship with our Father. All the while believing others might see Jesus in us while in the midst of the storm.

But Arnie, back to my quandary. Maybe the issue is the definition and application of fear of God. Could it be possible that we minimized our fear of God both in the Holy reference aspect and in the Holy cow it's likely I'm gonna get zapped by God if I do that!

Or does the God of the new testament even 'zap' people anymore? Could it be He has become more objective and just relies on His grace to see us through. Maybe we could even touch the Covenant Chest and get away with it? Grace is sufficient.

Still simple minded in Omaha. :)

February 28, 2008 at 8:30 AM

More Objective? Grace Yes! Objectivity...hmmm. When I get to Revelation He is still someone whose very presence evokes 'fear'. Aslan is good but He is not tame...

February 28, 2008 at 9:20 AM
Anonymous  

Couple O Thoughts:

1. God doesn't change. As we read in James 2, there is not shifting at all in His character. So He's just as holy and fear-worthy in the NT as the OT and will be at the end of time.

2. Praise God He is also loving and merciful!

3. Suffering has many forms, origins and instances. Does fear of God eliminate persecution for faith? No. Does it eliminate testing of our faith? No. BUT, there is ample Biblical testimony to the fact that hardship is often a result of stubborness of God's people. How many times do we read weeping prophets of old saying "O, that you would have be faithful and remembers, then I would have kept you near and blessed you.."

4. Does God "zap" folks. While I don't like the mental imagery of little bugs hitting a blue light and emitting a wisp of smoke - it's a fair question. So you see plenty of stories in the OT where God strikes someone down for disregarding His guidance. You also have the case of Ananias and his bride being struck down before the Apostles for their deceit in giving.

In my mind I see as being a subject of tension with clear principles to guide us by:

- God is holy and warrants our "fear" (what does "fear" mean today?)
- Suffering is part of life
- Some suffering is self-induced (sometimes MUCH suffering!)
- Fear of God is the beginning of knowledge, wisdom and a key to holy living

Thanks, Omaha. I love the sincere questions emerging from your meditation on Scripture!

Leaders do that: wrestle with Scripture, seek peer counsel/input on the implications to life, and continue learning.


Respectfully,
Alaskan Mountain Man

February 28, 2008 at 10:23 AM

I would contend that fear is more of an attitude than emotion, a placement of our will(an attitude) in the place that is subject to God, to his power, to his righteousness, and even to his Grace. We fear Him when we are subject to Who He is. I would agree with Arnie that may not change the appearance of suffering in our lives, but our attitude toward the suffering then can change our response to the suffering. Not to mention the lessening of suffering because we aren't beating our heads against the wall to get our own will done...

February 28, 2008 at 12:50 PM

My apologies for using the term 'zap'. I really meant to say, 'WHACKED'. I agree with the Alaskan Mountain Man and still await the wisdom of the learned men of our faith to share what it is to fear God.

I suspect defining fear of God is limited by the English vocabulary. Possibly, one definition of fear invokes reverent awe. Another fear of God invokes terror.

If there is validity in the thought of two types of fear, we will likely agree a reverent awe or fear of God is part of a healthy relationship with our Father. On the other hand, is it possible or even appropriate to be terrified of the NT God of grace?

I'm ok with reverent fear, so just tell me about terrifying fear. I don't have it, but if appropriate I want it. Possibly, Annanias and his wife have the appreciation for the fear of God they might care to share.

Rom 11:22 You must try to appreciate both the kindness and the strict justice of God.

February 28, 2008 at 4:28 PM

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