Dichotomy of Fear

The Dichotomy of Fear Our thoughts and ideas of God weighs on our actions and how we live both publicly and privately inside society. This view then has a massive effect on our emotional stability. With that said, what you have seen and experienced in your life in church, study and even observation of others can and will change your future… if you let it.

I am sure we all have stories of something scary from our childhoods. Maybe being chased by an angry dog. We often remember it being a massive pit bull with drool pouring out of its mouth as it came in for the kill. 9/10 times it was a poodle that was really excited about someone new to play with. I believe the fear of God has the same effect on our Christianity as the memory of the poodle could have on our fear of dogs.

When speaking about fear there becomes a fierce debate over the dichotomy of what the Bible says about fear and how we need to let it effect our lives. On one hand Proverbs 1:7 teaches us that fearing God is where we need to start in our journey with Him. Scripture also teaches us that we do not receive a spirit of fear from God (Romans 8:15), in fact it goes further to say that fear does not come from God and even shows our imperfections. (1John 4:18) So why do so many Christians hold to the teaching that we need to be afraid of God? And more importantly, how is that healthy?

The separation comes down into two words, one Greek – one Hebrew. It is important to note before continuing that the english language is very liquid and always changing, so to ascribe some static meaning to a changing word becomes pointless through time.

With that said the word Yirah (fear) as used in Proverbs 1:7 speaks of a state of being exceedingly reverent towards God. This is our place where we hold God in such high esteem that nothing can compare to how we view him. The second word is Phobos (fear) as seen in Romans 8:15 it shows a state of being alarmed, frightened, or living in fear. With the simple switch of those two words our view of God changes drastically. It changes from fearing that God is ready to destroy us with His giant foot into living in a relationship with a God that we get to honor.

So apply that to your life. Start with your theology of the end times. Inside Phobos (fear) I am looking at a God that I am scared of. I begin to buy into the “left behind” type of rapture theology that keeps me panicking that there is something I forgot to repent of. If I look at a Yirah understanding of God and fear I begin to think of the second coming as my blessed hope as described in Titus 2:11-15. It changes it from something awful and scary into a what it was intended to be… beautiful.

Ephesians discusses marriage as the closest thing we have to understanding the relationship between Jesus and the church (us). If a returning Jesus is angry and coming to beat on us, well why would we want that. But if His love for us is so great that He is looking for us eagerly then we should be excited about that. I don’t do things to hurt my wife because I am scared of her, I don’t hurt because I love her.

For many Christians this even trickles into your views of sex and love. We are taught to ignore sex and drive it into a shameful category. In reality, the reason scripture talks about sex and keeping it inside of marriage is not so that you don’t have any fun in life, but so that you are protected. Think about all the heart ache, emotional pain, and brokenness that can be caused through our sexuality.

Even in the 10 commandments God is pointing to places where our relationship with Him can be kept strong through following some rules. We don’t follow these rules out of fear of being destroyed (Phobos) but out of respect for our relationship with Him (Yirah). Then as a result when we do manage to follow all of the commandments it magically creates healthy relationships with the people around. This to me shows that God cares about our emotions more than we want to admit.

God’s rules and ideas are all in place to protect our emotions and help us become the best person we can. It has nothing to do with trying to make your life miserable.

So when thinking about God and how He relates to you, try not thinking about the angry God that was depicted through the 80’s – 90’s, He isn’t real. The real God is the one who is looking for a direct relationship built out of reverence and respect. That respect is living in an emotionally healthy fear of God (Yirah).

So let’s continue our emotionally healthy journey by having a proper view of the fear of God.


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