“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10)
Do we not emphasize enough the fearsome wrath of God? Do we rely too much on divine grace? As Advent season returns, can we not hear the warnings of John the Baptist: “Every tree therefore that doesn’t bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Mark 3:9) There are many descriptions of God in the Bible which should fill us “with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
Hold on a minute. The word “fear” in speaking of our relationship with God can have a double meaning. Fear in the Bible can also mean reverence, a state of our being over-awed.
When God does finally reveal God’s true nature, it is as a newborn child. God comes quietly in the name of peace, the opposite of threat and violence. Rather than being intimidating, the baby of Bethlehem comes to win over our hearts. Grace turns out to be the real face of God after all. The Kingdom of God plants its fear in Christmas Eve as the realm of love, not violence.
It is a love that transforms the negative side of fear into heart-felt reverence of a God full of surprise.