Fear of God Does Not Mean Being Afraid of God (2) By Babatunde Olugboji
We started a series of fears last week, as we delve into the seemingly confusing concept of fear. While fear appears to be a bad thing, the Bible at the same time calls on us to fear: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10)
But before we dive into the good news the Bible has about our fears and the fear of God, it is worth noticing how anxious our culture has become. Seeing where our society is at this moment can help us understand why we have a problem with fear -and why the fear of God is just the pick-me-up we need.
These days, it seems, everyone is talking about a culture of fear. From Twitter to television, we agonize about many things, ranging from global terrorism to climate change, extreme weather, diets, and political turmoil. Our private lives are filled with still more sources of anxiety. We worry about what we should eat, and what we shouldn’t, what we should drink and what we shouldn’t. If you choose the full-fat version on the menu, you’re heading for a heart attack. Yet we keep discovering that the low-calorie alternative is actually carcinogenic or harmful in some other way.
And so, a low-grade fear starts early in the day as we sit down for breakfast. Or think of the paranoia surrounding parenting today. The valid but sometimes overblown fear of the kidnapper lurking online or outside every school has helped fuel the rise of helicopter parenting. Children are more and more fenced in to keep them safe. As a whole, we are immersed in an increasingly anxious and uncertain culture. Safety has become the holy grail of most societies. And like the Holy Grail, it is something we can never quite reach. Protected like never before, yet we are panicky and frightened like never before.
How can this be? Quite simply, in many societies across the globe, God is not the proper object of fear. The fear of God is a happy and healthy fear that should control our other fears, reining in anxiety. With our society having lost God as the proper object of healthy fear, our culture is necessarily becoming more neurotic and anxious.
In ousting God from our culture, other concerns -from personal health to the health of the planet have assumed a divine ultimacy in our minds. Good things have become cruel and pitiless idols. And thus, we feel helplessly precarious, as society fills with anxieties.
Throwing off the fear of God has not made our society happier and less fretful. Quite the opposite. It is time to knuckle down spiritually and fight fear with faith. We need to fight the fear of the anxiety variety with the fear of God. The fear of God is indeed the beginning of wisdom.
Have a great week.
Kingdom Dynamics, a weekly column written by Dr. Babatunde Olugboji, the President, Kingdom House, a non-profit organization in New Jersey, USA.
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