Was Jesus Afraid of God?
New Life Bulletin ~ 6/2/21
The answer to that question is an absolute no! Why? Because, as it says in I John 4:18 “Perfect love drives out fear.” (NIV) Was that Jesus’ perfect love for the Father? In Jesus’ case, perhaps we might say so. But in the text, it is God’s perfect love for us that drives (casts) out being afraid of God.
I received more than the usual comments concerning a recent article about fear. Fear, or being afraid is the greatest barrier to everything right and good in the world. And yet, at the same time we read in the Bible that we are to fear God. It is interesting to me that so many people are afraid to let go of the word “fear” as in “Fear God and keep his commandments”.
I feel a little like Paul here when he was trying to explain grace to the church in Rome. I can anticipate those who will say, “So you’re saying we can shake our fist in the face of God and get away with it!” Or perhaps like Job’s wife we might assume if Job curses God, death will be the immediate result.
Can we shake our fist in God’s face (if God has a face) and get away with it? Yes. It happens all the time and there hasn’t been much “smiting” as the result. Of course, we would say that God will get “fist shakers” in the end. Well and good. However, the greater question, and the one I think so many of us have so much trouble with is, “Why would you want to shake your fist in the face of perfect love?” Yes, yes. I know about Job. But do we really want to compare the concept of God examined in that book with the view of God held and taught by Jesus? Maybe you, but not me. Why? First of all, if I believe Jesus was indeed the one-of-a-kind son of God, then I believe him when he says God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” (Luke 6:35) Or Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Meaning what? Meaning that God does not want them (and us) to be afraid God will take relationship with him from them.
Did Jesus ever say to fear God? Yes. Once. He told them as he was explaining what it would be like if they followed him, (and it is recorded in Matthew and Luke) not to be afraid of those who could only kill their bodies, i.e.., take their life, but to fear the one who could both kill them and then destroy everything about them, i.e., their souls. He was using a comparison. If being killed is what they feared most, they should fear the one (God) who had the power to keep them from eternal life if they denied God.
If you look in a concordance you will find that Jesus spends more time telling people not to be afraid than he ever does the opposite.
One of things that complicates fearing God is that (wisely, I think) the Hebrews had several words for what is translated “fear.” The most used word for fear is “reverence.” Just think how differently our mind would recall scripture if it read, “Revere God and keep his commandments.” Or “The Reverence of God is the beginning of wisdom.”
Another thing is that the words are not consistent in their usage, at least if you are not a Hebrew. For example, Abraham is told in his vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram.” The word there is the same as the one translated “reverence.” It would be hard to believe Abram was told not to hold God in “reverence.”
The Greeks also had a couple or more words for “fear.” The most common is phobeo. As you can see, it’s the word we know as “phobia.”
As I said earlier, I’m interested in how Jesus wanted us to know and understand God. And it seems to me Jesus, as well as the other writers of the New Testament, believe being afraid of God diminishes our love and relationship with him.
Jesus never spoke of being afraid of his heavenly father. Is it the quality of a good, God-like father, to cause his children to be afraid of him? I don’t think so. However, I’m not an expert on fatherhood. Ask my kids. But if I ever wanted them to be afraid of me, I can’t remember it. Were there things when, in anger, I made them afraid? Yes, but thankfully not many. As you can tell, I can remember those more than they. The reason? Because it was a time when I did not act like a father should. As I’ve aged (became a grandparent), I’ve learned there are other ways to be a parent.
I always love it when someone says. “Well, my father took the strap to me all the time, and I turned out pretty good!” My question is, “So what? Does that mean you did the same thing to your kids?”
Again, I cannot get the image in my mind of a good father being the type that his children fear, i.e., are afraid of. The type that the children must ask the mother if they can speak to him. The kind that gets to eat the best food first, and the mother and children eat the leftovers. The kind that will punish severely the breaking of his rules with no mercy or grace. The kind that causes the children to hide when he comes in from work. The kind the children want to love but can’t. And yet cannot help trying.
Let me tell you a true story. A family we know adopted a little child from an abusive mother. The adoptive mother told me the child would often come to her and say, “Mommy, do you want to spank me?” It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to know that the child had love and punishment all mixed in together. The only time the natural mother touched that child was to whip her. And yet, as is so often the case, the child, knowing no other form of parental security, “loves” that abusive parent and seeks any contact they will give. We may say, “Well, those evil people better fear God!” Right! But evil people don’t respect or even believe in God. So what good is it to tell them they’d better watch out? The Bible primarily speaks to believers. Look past all the fear stuff and see the great love and faithfulness of God all through the Bible. And especially remember God’s absolutely perfect love, realized, takes all the fear of God away, as it should in the life of any loving parent. We can be worse than God, but not more loving.
THOSE TO SERVE IN JUNE
Announcements: Connie Crites
Ushers: Leena Bolin / Holly Wagner
Singing: 6 & 13 Karen Branch
20 & 27 Del Bolin
Scripture: Susan Jordan
Communion: 6 & 27- Wayne Flora
13- Mike Branch, 20 – Keith Wagner
4- Brian Mileti
13- Mike Branch
13- Susan Jordan
21- Wayne Flora
29- Joni Beach
1–Garrett & Erma Williams
9-Wayne & Alisa Flora
25-Lyn & Susan Jordan
26-Dillion & Laura Hogan
CONCERNS: Jim Hunter has been diagnosed with an autoimmune deficiency and will be going to UVA for further tests on September 29th. Alisa Flora is now home from traveling. Please continue to pray for her nephew, Ethan Gentry and her sister Melanie Gentry. Wayne Flora’s parents, Sylvus and Martha Flora, and sister, Jan. Newlywed medical student of Del Bolin, Cory, was recently diagnosed with a rare cancer. He has had two rounds of immunotherapy. Leena Bolin’s brother, Steve (Covid lung scarring), Steve’s ex-wife (possible ALS) and son (bi-polar). Please continue to pray for Judy McWhorter’s sister, Jan, and brother-in-law, Gary Overstreet. Gary is now in Community Hospital in rehab for another week or two. Megan Downing’s aunt, Stacey Smith, finished with her chemo treatments but will go back each week to get CT scans. Megan’s grandmother’s (Bonnie Beaver) surgery went well, and she will have 3 more treatments every 3 weeks. Erma’s sister, Lorretta, has serious health issues and is awaiting an oncology treatment plan. Del Bolin’s mom, Carrie, has health issues. Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Brenda Windham, has cancer. Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole. Pray for Debbie McRoy’s cousins, Linda Alsup and Erica Halford. Deanna McRoy has a kind of cancer that can return at any time.
ALSO REMEMBER: Calesta Saunders, Alan & Joni Beach, Kerry & Sula Hay, Judd Beaver, Lebreska Whitaker, Wayne & Susan Phlegar, Angela Cavalier, Nick Hodges, Martha Albert, Ruby Crosen, Mark & Ellen Tidwell, Donte McCadden, Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Jo-Ellen Griffith, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, and Tim Elder.
Movie Night – Working through the logistics of setting up a weekly movie night for the summer. Begin praying about this special outreach.
SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS
Please join us for the study of “The Acts of God in the Book of Acts. At 9:30 am, in person or online with YOUTUBE.
Dinner and Fellowship on Thursday, June 17th at 6:00pm at the Mileti’s. Their address is 2739 Gleneagles Rd. Salem, VA 24153. To pray over the Church’s vision statement. Please RSVP to let the Mileti’s know if you plan on coming.
ONLINE YOUTUBE SERMONS
We continue to provide services online. The Roanoke Church of Christ YouTube channel link below:
Join the Zoom Meeting on the study of
Matthew at 7pm.
Meeting ID:873 6718 6931
Maggie Foy graduated from Hidden Valley High School on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Way to go Maggie!
Thank you to Vinton Roofing for putting on the new roof over the Annex and the basement addition. They had the new roof put on in two days.
Has decided to wait another month or two on resuming our traditional communion service. We will continue to use the packaged communion cups until further notice.