There are many places in the Bible where we are told to fear God. No one states this more plainly than Peter, “Fear God.” (1 Peter 2.17) The problem we are left with is that fear does not create a strong bond. Fear may chase you from something, but it does not draw you close to anything. “Fear is the great enemy of intimacy. Fear makes us run away from each other or cling to each other but does not create true intimacy.” (Henri Nouwen)
We teach children to stay away from fire. We tell them the dangers and the harm that will befall anyone who is careless with a flame. But, firefighters walk into burning buildings, welders weld white-hot torches, and nuclear power is created to harvest its yield. What is the difference? The ember is always dangerous, but the firefighter, welder, and engineer have all figured something out- how to properly approach their thermal threat. In learning how to properly approach God we can remove our fear of Him, increasing our intimacy with Him.
Now we look at a seemingly contradictory verse, 1 John 4.18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” There is some truth to “scaring the Hell out of somebody”. When the people pride themselves in sin, warning them of the true danger is essentially warning the child to stay away from fire. But once someone becomes penitent more than fear is needed. If one never develops a love for God, their relationship is not growing.
There is more to being a Christian that being so scared of Hell that you want God to save you. While ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons may be excellent reminders that God will honor the choice of the foolish, they do very little to grow a Christian’s love for the Lord. Sin is a problem; fire is always hot. But, when you are able to have a proper working relationship (love) with God, there is no need to fear. How do you get to a place of no fear? Increase in love. Easier said than done, I know. But the goal is to love perfectly because He first loved us. If you need help with this, let me know. Do not go one more day in fear, when you can be certain in the joyful expectation of Heaven. Jesus IS coming FOR ME. Know it, and fear no more.