Thursday, September 5, 2013

Fearing God

Would you be nervous if you met the president? Would you be a little scared? You probably should be. Every president, regardless of party, has been the subject of stories about people who weren't quite deferential enough and got "detained." Most of those are nothing more than an inconvenience, but don't you think if the president wanted you disappear, someone would make it happen? It doesn't usually happen. It doesn't even happen often. The president (every president) appears to be a basically good man who just wants what's best for everyone. The president wants your life to be better than it is. But he can make you go away. Permanently.

In the same way, God is good. He loves you, and he wants what is best for you. But he can make you go away permanently. And unlike a president, who would be at best bending if not breaking the law, God has every right to do it. And unlike a president, who would be doing this out of sinful pride or arrogance, God would be doing it in perfect holiness.

To borrow from Martin Luther, if the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then the greatest transgression is to not love the Lord properly — something we're all guilty of continually. And that's not all. We're selfish, prideful, and lustful. We've lied, stolen, and hated. We hurt people we love and ignore people who need our help all the time.

So it's no exaggeration to say we're wicked, filthy, shameful creatures who deserve any punishment our creator chooses to mete out. You might not deserve the mistreatment a president can heap on you, but anything God might inflict on you is totally just. In fact, anything short of total annihilation is mercy.

So should we be nervous to meet God? When desperately wicked creatures like ourselves come into contact with a holy and just God, shouldn't we be terrified that he might just wipe us out?

And then shouldn't we be amazed that, instead of eradicating us, he chose to die for us? Instead of pouring the just penalty for our sins on our heads, he poured his blood out to cover those sins. Instead of annihilating us, he liberated us. Then he went a step farther. He changed us from slaves of sin into children of God. We are no longer partakers of his wrath but heirs with Christ.

When we stand before God we should be terrified. And then we should be amazed.