Hello, so I’ve only been following and believing in God out of fear. And at the end of the day, it’s not the right way to follow him and forcing myself to believe him isn’t really doing anything for me. I don’t know how I can *really* get to know Jesus, but since he’s coming back soon (which is why I’m so scared) it’s really hard to go to him because I want to, but it’s just because I’m afraid. Help please thanks <3
My friend: let’s take a huge breath and relax. Let it out slowly. Go to the nearest grocery market and get some Haagen Dazs and Gardettos snack mix. If that’s not your thing, type in the keyword “lol cats” and enjoy that until your brain is decompressed.
The problem with fear is that fear consumes more energy than it creates. While it might work as a motivation for a little while, it can’t sustain itself for long-term living. Having done martial arts my whole life, I’ve had my share of really scary masters, but we secretly hated those guys. We did what they said but really just resented them. Those easygoing masters, while they didn’t have us jumping up instantly, were better trainers for the long haul. We respected them more because we actually liked them.
I understand that “Jesus coming back” or “Hell” or “punishment” are all legitimate reasons for fear, but none of these are even close to the focal point of a sincere relationship with your Heavenly Father. A pastor once said, “God is like a dad who wants to be with his kids and enjoy them.” That was, by the way, said by a very-Reformed Calvinist who subscribes to all that hyper-fear theology.
Think of it this way: When you have kids one day (or do have kids), is your main goal for them to be scared to death of you? That they would force themselves to get to know you? That they’d be trembling up to the second you come back home from work? Of course not. You’ll walk through the front door of your home with open arms and receive them when they run towards you. Because you love your kids. Even when you discipline them, the motive is out of love. God loves you even infinitely more than that.
You’ve probably read 1 John 4:18, which says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” A lot of us get this confused when we also read Proverbs 1:7, which says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Here’s how we reconcile this. When you first heard about God and truly understood His holy nature, you were probably in reverent fear of His power. So of course, the fear of God is the beginning of your knowledge. But as you get to know Him and see the cross and know how much Jesus loves you and experience him in your struggles and victories, then this perfect love drives out fear.
If I could chart that out, a believer’s understanding might look like this:
Fear ==> Awe ==> Gratitude ==> Peace ==> Love/Joy
Since we’re human, this won’t always be a linear process, but the maturing Christian will get out of fear-mode and into the gracious arms of Jesus. Even when God rebukes or Jesus comes back, you still have no reason to be scared, because this is His compassion working for the good that you might fully know His love.
Satan is cool with you being afraid of God, so long as you’re not approaching Him. God wants you to be completely free of fear so you can experience His all-powerful, life-saving love, which is the only kind of love that can transform you into the person you were called to be. You can tell Him you’re afraid, and He will receive you just as you are.
My friend, be free of fear. The cross is not Jesus saying, “Look what you did to me.” It is ultimately saying, “This is what I did for you.” He loves you, end of story. He is not like others who might bite back. He is gracious to see you come running to the front door.