Thursday, 29 March 2012

Why should we fear God?

We should fear and love God...

Sometimes we have a hard time understanding how fear and love can go together.

The fear of the LORD that is consistently referred to in the Bible is not the same as other types of fear that may immediately come to mind.

We do not fear God the way we fear being in a field with an angry lion.
We do not fear God the way we fear the thought of a ghost, or an evil spirit.

We fear God because it is not in our power to take hold of grace.  He alone can save, and we are at His mercy.  The fear of the LORD goes beyond respect, it goes beyond awe - the fear of the LORD is a total surrender of control.  It is the acknowledgement that God alone holds the outcome of your existence.

His Word on this matter brings both fear and love. 

"Just as I do not want a sinner," He says, "so I do not want the death of a sinner.  But if you have been driven to sin by the wickedness of the devil, and if the Law condemns you and the devil hurls his flaming darts at you and tries to drive you into hell, I do not want you to die or to despair.  No, I want you to flee for refuge to Christ the Savior, who does not want the death of a sinner, just as He does not want a sinner either." ~ Martin Luther

In Christ we fear and love God.  Christ lived a life of fear and love towards His heavenly Father, and in Him we have His life.  Flee to Christ the Savior for refuge, for without His life we have neither fear nor love, but only despair.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Why don't we see more results?

When it comes to ministry we are always tempted to look for the results of our efforts, or the success of the ministry.  We see success in numbers and we cannot help but count and compare.

But is this the way God measures success?  What is His focus?

In John 6:66, the apostle writes, "After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him."  Jesus had continued preaching the same message, but He began losing some of His following.  If we were to look at this with human eyes today, we would say that He must not be teaching the truth, or He needs to do something different to attract the youth.  But did Jesus change His message?  Did He change His style?  No, because He does not measure success the way we do.  He is not focused on the same things as us.

St. Paul provides a fuller explanation.  He says, "Your life is hidden with Christ in God." (Col. 3:3)  Hidden.  That is to say, you cannot see it.  We cannot see who has faith, and who acts like they have faith.  We cannot see these deep spiritual things, and thank God that they are hidden from us.  But if they are hidden, then we are not supposed to focus on them.

What then should we focus on, if not results?

The answer is Service.  Focus on Service.  Focus on the serving, not on the result of the serving.  Serve your neighbour.  Serve your friends and your family.  Serve your Lord, and let Him take care of the results.  After all as St. Paul says, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth."

This new focus on service frees us from the concerns of success.  We can freely serve knowing that the Lord will bring growth as He sees fit.  Thanks be to God, that He gives us the opportunity to serve in freedom.