Monday, January 21, 2013

The beautiful ability to fear

We use the word "fear" variously to describe emotions and attitudes. We may be afraid of:
  • physical harm like natural disasters or being homeless or hungry
  • scary things that go "boo" on Hallowe'en or frighten us in horror films
  • personal phobias like the dark, spiders, small spaces, or airplane trips
  • relationships that threaten malice (or envy), political ill-will, and other harms
  • being overlooked or deemed insignificant
  • think others may interrupt our dreams or disrupt our goals
  • approach change with uncertainty or doubt
But we "fear" in other ways, when we:
  • respect those with power over us
  • honor and admire those who become role models
  • worry about the future
  • take risks into new challenges beyond our comfort zone (act courageously)
J. T. Lowery

I'm wrestling through an idea from scripture: "Unite my heart to fear your name." (Psalm 86:11 KJV)

My mind stumbled and stopped at the connection between unity of heart and our ability to honor and respect God. When our inner beings are divided, distracted, and scattered, can we comprehend the foundation of our faith--the hinge on which we pivot toward God--which is respectful fear?

Paul writes also that hearts that are divided within faith communities cannot understand or know God: "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ." Colossians 2:2 (See context below: read more.)

Only when we are single-minded in pursuing our relationship with God and we single-heartedly forgive and accept others in the "bond of peace," can we approach God.

Our common alternatives to such the hard disciplines of unity and love?
  • Hail God as a friend or buddy, always on hand to help out or alleviate our loneliness. "You're not alone; you have God's shoulder to lean on." We don't have to change a thing - he's our crutch when we get in trouble. We may feel abandoned and disappointed when God doesn't come through like a cosmic vending machine of goodies.
  • Self-help through gurus who tell us how easily (and without sacrifice) to appease God's expectations or ward off bad "karma." Our designer god looks a lot like us and only demands what we are willing to give.
  • Hypocrisy and self-deception where we live as "Christians" and claim to be followers of Jesus without giving up secret sins or destructive habits. We look good while ignoring Jesus' blunt warning: "You white-washed tombs. You look nice on the outside but stink of filth and rot inside."
  • Procrastination and increased fear. We never resolve the inner conflicts and fragmentation . We spiral further into darkness rather than walking in the light.
Fear of things out of our control will debilitate us.

BUT awe and reverence for God will set us free. 
He's in charge, in control, and strong enough 
to hold all things together by the word of His power.

Are you amazed at his love? Dumbstruck with wonder at his provision?

Harmony isn't a denial of suffering or ignoring of circumstances. Instead, true holistic living begins with willingness to lay down our own fragmented interests and desires to unite our hearts to fear His name.

Both personally and in the community of faith.

Read more:
For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name for ever. Psalm 86:10-12 NIVUK

*Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility. Zephaniah 2:3

*A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria. … But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went." Acts 8:1, 4 NEV

*Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord. 1 Corinthians 12:4,5

*(Paul) I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.Colossians 2:1-4

*If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
Moravian Prayer: Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous his thoughts and turn unto the Lord. Amen.

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