Your Life Should Be Characterized by Fear

After writing about a half dozen posts on why we should not be fearful as the Coronavirus ravages the world (and now murder hornets?), I would like to conclude with one final post about why you should live in fear.

Yes, you read that right. Your life should be fear.

A lot of fear.

“But that contradicts everything you’ve already said!”

Fear in StoneNah, on the contrary, it demonstrates the intricacies of the English language and how we have many words that can mean completely different things in different contexts.

Furthermore, it demonstrates the depth of meaning embedded in the term fear.

In my fifth post, “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself,” I said, “According to Dictionary.com, fear is ‘a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.'”

But that’s only the first definition! Here is the fourth definition: “Reverential awe, especially toward God.”

With both of these definitions in mind, I would like to offer my own definition of fear: “The assignment of power, real or unreal, to someone or something that we know or perceive to be greater than ourselves.”

We only exhibit fear toward something when we think it is more powerful than us. Some people are afraid of spiders because they think that the eight-legged creatures can harm them or something they own. Likewise, other people keep spiders as pets because they know that they are bigger and smarter than spiders and can contain them (or kill them if necessary).

Children sometimes run across streets to fetch a stray ball because they are unaware that something bigger and more powerful than them can hit them and instantly transport them out of this world.

Right now millions of people are afraid of Covid-19 because they are convinced that it is currently outside of the control of humankind. Others want to resume normal daily life because they are equally convinced that the virus is not as powerful as it seems.

The Bible often refers to the importance of fearing God because God is greater than us. In Deuteronomy 5:29, God expressed his desire for Israel to fear him: “‘Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!'”

In Deuteronomy 10:12, Moses told Israel, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The prophet Samuel repeated this theme to Israel in 1 Samuel 12:24: “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”

Over and over again in Scripture we find these commands to fear God, and they are given both to Israel and to all people in general: “Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8).

Fear God

We should not fear God because we think he is some kind of evil world dictator who will harm us and do terrible things just to bring himself pleasure. God is of a much greater character than that.

No, we should fear God because he is our creator, our sustainer, our redeemer, and our ultimate authority (Colossians 1:13-18 provides a great summary of these concepts).

He is much greater than us.

So, my friend, do you fear God? Do you consider God to be greater than yourself, thus evoking a sense of awe and fear of him?

God is so powerful that he created us merely by speaking. God is so powerful that he can separate our souls from our bodies without using the agent of Covid-19. Likewise, he can protect us from death even if we contract the virus that has already taken the lives of so many people.

We do not need to fear the Coronavirus, but we do need to fear God.

You are only as safe as God allows you to be, and the more you fear God and serve him, the greater your chances of being safe.

The psalmist in Psalm 2:11-12 sums it up nicely:
“Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

I could go on and on and provide Scripture verse after Scripture verse supporting this idea, but I think the truth of God in the few verses here is sufficient. Hopefully, we are wise and discerning enough to understand the principles that God has given us in the Bible and apply them to our lives.

Your life should be characterized by fear. Fear of God; not fear of Covid.

(If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate it if you share it with others!)

  1. Fear: The Powerless Emotion That Controls Us
  2. What Does Fear Do to Us?
  3. What Impact Does Fear Have on the Economy?
  4. Fear Is a Choice
  5. “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”
  6. Replacing Fear with a Healthy Awareness
  7. Flaunting Fearlessness
  8. Your Life Should Be Characterized by Fear

Flaunting Fearlessness

 

“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that.” Bishop Gerald O. Glenn shared these words in a sermon to his congregation at New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Richmond, VA, on March 22.

This in-person sermon was also the last that Bishop Glenn would deliver.

One week after choosing to meet despite national warnings to “social distance” and avoid groups of more than 10 people, the church suspended its meetings and chose to adhere to the recommended guidelines.

A couple weeks later on the eve of Easter, Bishop Glenn died from complications with Covid-19.

To be clear, the church was not breaking the law. The 10-person limit did not become an executive order in Virginia until Monday, March 23. Furthermore, Bishop Glenn may not have contracted the virus from his church; he could have gotten it at the grocery store or the gas station or somewhere else.

But the sad story prompts questions among those in his congregation and the rest of us observing the world today. Even if we have no fear of death, is it right for us to gather anyway and ignore state and national recommendations? Does God give us the divine right to defy government bans and hold weekly meetings?

Is God “larger than this dreaded virus,” as Bishop Glenn said three weeks before the virus transferred him into the presence of God?

The national headlines are full of stories of pastors and churchgoers who have chosen to ignore government regulations and meet anyway in large groups. Unfortunately, during a time when many non-Christians are open to the Gospel, several churches are giving Christianity a bad reputation.

In a sense, these people are flaunting their fearlessness.

A Florida pastor was arrested on March 30 because he held normal church services two days after his county banned such gatherings in the interest of public safety: “Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, who leads a megachurch in Tampa, Florida, was arrested Monday for refusing to cancel services in compliance with a local government directive telling people to stay at home except for essential needs. Citing religious freedom, The River at Tampa Bay Church held two services last Sunday, even busing people in to them.”

On Easter Sunday in Kentucky, a church gathered together in their building, and a few of the congregants have since sued their governor for violating their constitutional rights.

Pastor Tony Spell in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has continued to hold services every Sunday because he says that the First Amendment cannot prohibit him from doing so.

Many other believers would also argue, “Jesus said that ‘He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me'” (Luke 10:16). In other words, there will always be people who reject Christ and look with disdain upon believers.

But when fear of a virus closes down the world, does God want us to make a name (good or bad) for ourselves and for him at this time, or does he want us to abide by the same rules as everyone else?

It is true that born again believers will always be foreigners in this imperfect world. Our home is in Heaven and on the future New Earth. We should never feel comfortable here because God has far greater things planned for us.

Putting all the politics aside, however, God presents a balanced view of earthly stewardship, obedience to God, and submission to government authorities.

In Genesis 1:28, God commanded man to have dominion over the earth. Earth is one of God’s gifts to us, and he expects us to subdue it, care for it, and use it for his glory. Therefore, even though viruses were not part of the original creation, we should still do our part to exert control over viruses, limit their spread, and keep the earth healthy.

The Old Testament details the history of Israel and how God told them repeatedly that obeying him was more important than anything else; likewise, failure to obey him would bring judgment (and God kept that promise too). Therefore, our utmost goal in all things should be to obey God.

Facing persecution in Acts 5:29, Peter told the Jerusalem officials, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Therefore, when the government prohibits us from obeying God, we should prioritize our allegiance to God.

Here is God’s version of the First Amendment, however: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same” (Romans 13:1-3).

Bam! There it is. Obey your governing authorities. God appointed them and gave them to us. End of discussion.

Even the ones we don’t like.

US Capitol

If we do good, we should receive praise from them. Now if they do evil and disobey God themselves, they are resisting their authority (God) and will bring judgment on themselves. In such cases we are exempt from their authority because they are no longer practicing their divine responsibilities.

As much as I love independence, as much as I think the whole Covid-19 scare is blown out of proportion, and as much as I love my church, I still believe that believers must submit to government regulations during this time. Not because we are fearful, and not because all the government officials are necessarily right, but because God told us to obey them.

Is the virus as serious as the government says it is? I personally do not think so, and you are free to disagree with me. There are doctors, nurses, scientists, and politicians who would say the same, but the media does not usually promote their views.

Yes, thousands of people are dying from the virus, but I have already written about the other dangers of this world that take thousands of lives every single week. In case you haven’t noticed (or read in your Bible), almost every person who has ever lived will die. Most of us will die from other viruses, cancers, accidents, etc. Only time will reveal whether or not we overreacted to Covid-19.

Nevertheless, I believe that most of our government officials honestly want to protect our health and safety. They have put these regulations in place to protect us, not to harm us.

Have they thought through all the implications of their actions, especially the stay-at-home orders? Perhaps not, but neither did they have much time to act. But for the most part, they have good intentions.

The WHO, the CDC, President Trump, the governors, and anyone else with authority wants to protect you and me from this novel coronavirus. Yes, sometimes they can be like overprotective parents, making wrong decisions that do not benefit us in the long run. This is why freedom of speech and open dialogue is healthy for our country (and for children and parents!).

Right now our elected officials are trying to keep us healthy; they are not targeting churches, promoting persecution, or attempting to stamp out the Gospel. Their desire is not to keep you or me from worshiping God and practicing freedom of religion.

Speaking of the First Amendment, it’s true that it explicitly says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

So we can still have church meetings despite the stay-at-home orders, right?

Well, those orders vary from state to state and are put in place by governors. To my knowledge, the federal government has issued recommendations but not nationwide orders. Therefore, Congress (the federal government) has not made any laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of anyone’s religion. Some governors have, but Congress has not.

So the way I understand the law, churches may freely meet in states that do not have the shelter orders because of their First Amendment rights. Perhaps you may even interpret the First Amendment to include governors in your definition of Congress.

But is it wise? Will it help the furtherance of the Gospel?

Furthermore, even if we have our First Amendment rights, why are we using a man-made law as our basis for meeting together and worshiping? Those who do so are contradicting themselves when they say that man is not our authority.

Rather, God’s Word should be our authority. We should gather together and encourage one another because God’s Word tells us to (Hebrews 10:24-25; Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 3:12-17).

But we should also honour our government because God’s Word tells us to.

Observing the Covid-19 recommendations and state orders do not prevent us from doing everything God tells us to do. We can still make disciples, we can still meet together (even if it’s online), and we can still live our everyday lives in one way or another.

Therefore, even if our lives are not characterized by fear, we should still submit to our authorities and seek to do our best to comply with them because God said so.

If they are right, kudos to them for doing the right thing. If they are wrong, kudos to you and I for doing the right thing.

In the end, if we do not flaunt our fearlessness by opposing our government, we “will have praise from the same” (Romans 13:3).

What do you think? Am I right? Am I wrong?

How do you interpret the First Amendment, Romans 13, and the orders and recommendations that we have received in recent days?

(If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate it if you share it with others!)

  1. Fear: The Powerless Emotion That Controls Us
  2. What Does Fear Do to Us?
  3. What Impact Does Fear Have on the Economy?
  4. Fear Is a Choice
  5. “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”
  6. Replacing Fear with a Healthy Awareness
  7. Flaunting Fearlessness
  8. Your Life Should Be Characterized by Fear

To learn more about the stories I mentioned in this post, you can read the articles below on ChurchLeaders.com. Most of them are written by one person, but she writes to share the facts without inserting her opinion.

Church Mourns Loss of Pastor Who Rejected Social Distancing

Pastor Arrested for Holding Church in Defiance of Directive

Easter Churchgoers Defy KY In-Person Ban, Sue Governor

Pastor Does Not Want A Govt Handout, Just Your Stimulus Money