Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fear God

I just got done watching the 1983 movie, "Mr. Mom," with my kids. Remember it? Michael Keaton plays a dad who loses his job and ends up staying home full time to care for his young family while his wife goes to work. So part of the hilarity is supposed to be how messy and chaotic his house becomes as he tries to manage in his new role. Well, I don't have the excuse that the role is so new for me, but my house is reminding me a lot of his at its worst. I'm not seeing the humor.

Nevertheless, I'm bugged and I need to write this down – the house can wait.

In my last post, FEAR, I did something I should not have done, which is that I made reference to an acquaintance who is deeply involved in sin. Actually, if my husband, who has never read my blog, were to read that he might be upset. I can imagine him somehow defending her, and even though everything about the reference is completely anonymous, he might be angry that I impugned her character, even anonymously.

In reality, however, that reference disguised how upset I have been about the situation. So although maybe I never should have brought it up on my blog in the first place, I'm ready to dredge it up again and examine it more closely.

She shamelessly engages in flagrant sin. I'm grieved about that. But the part that has me bugged, all the more since that last blog posted, is that she apparently still sees herself as having a "close walk with God." Today we spent some time with this gal's roommate, and this roommate kept referring to the peace this gal has from God, and how God got her through various difficult times over the past years, and how close God is to her. It seems they have regular conversations along these lines – that is, their intimacy with the Divine. I was so disgusted I had trouble even making eye contact with this roommate today. I felt filthy myself at even participating in a discussion like that. What has become of our idea of who exactly God is and what exactly our relationship is to Him?

When my oldest son saw the title of my last blog, FEAR, he assumed it was about fearing God. Somehow right now I wish it had been about fearing God. But he ran to his room to fetch me his copy of A. W. Tozer's book, The Knowledge of the Holy. He was sure I could make use of Chapter 13, "The Divine Transcendence." Isn't he a sweetie? Well, as it turned out, I didn't even read the chapter until after I posted that blog entry. But I read it just now, and it is so completely relevant to this, my most current upset, that I feel compelled to share its most poignant parts with you.

Actually, its most poignant parts are all I would share with you, because much of it is beyond my vulgar ability to comprehend. I mean, I get it – I just can't really appreciate it. Tozer begins the chapter discussing, basically, God's greatness – how He is so far beyond us in greatness that it doesn't even make sense to make comparisons. He says,

We must not think of God as highest in an ascending order of beings, starting with the single cell and going on up from the fish to the bird to the animal to man to angel to cherub to God. This would be to grant God eminence, even pre-eminence, but that is not enough; we must grant Him transcendence in the fullest meaning of that work. Forever God stands apart, in light unapproachable. He is as high above an archangel as above a caterpillar, for the gulf that separates the archangel from the caterpillar is but finite, while the gulf between God and the archangel is infinite. The caterpillar and the archangel, though far removed from each other in the scale of created things, are nevertheless one in that they are alike created. They both belong in the category of that-which-is-not-God and are separated from God by infinitude itself. (p. 70)

Sort of makes your head want to explode, doesn't it? But with this impenetrable illustration, Tozer sets the stage to remind us that God is to be feared. He continues,

When the psalmist saw the transgression of the wicked his heart told him how it could be. "There is no fear of God before his eyes," he explained, and in so saying revealed to us the psychology of sin. When men no longer fear God, they transgress His laws without hesitation. The fear of consequences is no deterrent when the fear of God is gone.

In olden days men of faith were said to "walk in the fear of God" and to "serve the Lord with fear." However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. This idea of God transcendent runs through the whole Bible and gives color and tone to the character of the saints. (p. 71)

Tozer describes the "terror and dismay" of various men of the Bible when God appeared to them: Abram, Moses, Daniel and Isaiah. He concludes,

These experiences show that a vision of the divine transcendence soon ends all controversy between the man and his God. The fight goes out of the man and he is ready with the conquered Saul to ask meekly, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Conversely, the self-assurance of modern Christians, the basic levity present in so many of our religious gatherings, the shocking disrespect shown for the Person of God, are evidence enough of deep blindness of heart. Many call themselves by the name of Christ, talk much about God, and pray to Him sometimes, but evidently do not know who He is. "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life," but this healing fear is today hardly found among Christian men. (p. 72)

Oh Lord, it is so true. This healing fear is today hardly found among Christian men – and women. I'm sick with disgust tonight at what passes for Christianity in our country, in our time. This happy, happy, "pull God out of your hat when you remember a verse that pleases you" version of Christianity. Or when you need help with something. Or you need to feel loved.

What would God have me say to people like this? First of all, I'm not without guilt myself, so the whole subject gets contorted in my mind even as I wrestle with it. And secondly, at least they acknowledge God and grant Him some semblance of honor in their lives – with their words, if not with personal holiness – which is a far cry better than the mainstream of our culture.

So, I am without answers. Maybe you, gentle readers, have answers for me.

P.S. -- Well, hubby got home last night just as I was ready to post this and was still in the throes of emotion over the whole ugly thing. I laid it all out for him and was pleased to watch him quietly agree with me with sad nods of his head. He did venture a feeble defense for the roommate that she is trying to cope with a bad situation by looking for the best and turning a blind eye to the worst. And that neither one of them is very well versed in certain fundamentals of the Christian faith. But this is by their own choice, as they have refused any Christian fellowship or exposure (even simply going to church on Sundays) for decades. What is there even to say to people like this?

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