Beyond Fear

Yes, I understand the Bible commends the fear of God, and I do too, but only as a preliminary beginning. God desires us to grow beyond the rudimentary beginning of fear. The apostle John said it this way:

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. . . . There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

In what is called the fear of God, what I fear is not God but the suffering my sin can inflict on myself and those around me. What God calls me to fear is the destructive results of sin — and I take God seriously. The shorthand term for this is the fear of God. The malevolent consequences of sin are all too real. But I’m not afraid of God. I used to be, but I am no longer. I am no longer afraid of God because I have come to know God as he is revealed in Christ. I have come to know that God’s single disposition toward me is one of unconditional, unwavering love. The knowledge of God’s love has made it impossible for me to be afraid of God.

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 96-97

Photo: Chateau de Chillon, Lake Geneva, Switzerland, November 2000

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