BUILT ON THE FEAR OF THE LORD AND AT PEACE
Brothers and Sisters,
This phrase “the fear of the Lord” is always one that those outside of the Holy Faith criticize and those within the Faith seem to either apologize for or not entirely understand. To be honest, I’m not sure how this situation came to be; perhaps it is because the very term “fear” has a largely negative connotation and is generally associated with gloomy situations.
This is where most Christians jump in and almost apologize for the phase – saying something like “we are not really afraid of God but it’s more about saying that we respect Him.” The best I can say for such a sentiment is that it holds a grain of truth. It certainly is correct that it is both bedrock and cornerstone of the Holy Faith to respect Almighty God, but even that word is not strong enough to be accurate. For example, we may respect politicians like representatives, senators, governors, presidents, and judges but we might also entirely disagree with them. This is where “respect” does not accurately depict the Christian in relation to Christ – respect, in this sense, is not good enough. We are not free to “respect but disagree” with Almighty God. This, admittedly, was easier for the faithful to accept when most were illiterate and uneducated because people generally understood that God knows better than us. Now that most of the world population has access to at least rudimentary education, it is more challenging for the faithful to defer to the judgement of another (even when that “other” is God Himself).
Consider this situation: the early Church looked nothing like the early Christians expected and even less like they wanted it to look. Most were expecting a militant Messiah that would bring a combination human and angelic army to tear down the Roman Empire (and others), and make Israel the superpower of the ancient world. Nearly all the early Christians wanted (and even expected) Christ to return quickly and in short order (maybe in as many as forty years). When these didn’t happen, they needed to humbly recognize that their ideas for the Church and the Faith were incorrect and needed to be changed.
Similarly for us, we (yes, all of us) constantly need to purify our individual faith. The “fear” then is a deferral to God and a recognition that we are not free to tell God what is moral and immoral and that God Himself is Truth – the Truth is not something constructed by our wishes. It is so common for people to declare “I believe in a god who . . .” and finish the sentence with a statement that conforms to their own preferences. It is easier still for us to assume that only others do this and that we ourselves would not. In celebrating Easter, make your ongoing conversion part of the Holy Season.
God be near,