Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Fear of the Lord

From Orthodox Martyria.
To be a Christian means to be acutely aware of one's need of God in their life, to be aware of their own frailty and sinful nature, and to be willing to surrender their lives entirely to Christ.  In doing so, we are to approach God in a state of fear - but what kind of fear?

Today, I was told that this fear is not the fear of a vengeful and punishing God, but a deep and intense fear of being without God in one's life.  This is something that I experienced emotionally after having watched a video of Fr. Lazarus El-Anthony (The Last Anchorite), wherein I was hit so very hard with what sin does - it separates us from God.  I broke down weeping because something in me was touched by the great realization of Who I had cut myself off from.  It was a brief time, but I was singularly impacted by this realization.

So I think it is healthy to approach God with this kind of holy fear - the fear of being without Him in our lives, without His love permeating our daily existence in everything we do, sustaining us and becoming our very life.  In doing so, we remind ourselves constantly that our central focus on everything we do in our lives should always be on Christ, so that we will be among those who "endure conflict to the end...and with their whole heart loved God alone and who have freed themselves from all other loves for the world."1 (St. Macarius the Great)

This is the kind of Christian I want to be - one who is so singularly drawn by and into the love of Christ, the Truth, that the very thought of Christ being absent in my life is absolutely unthinkable, that my very existence ceases without Him. 

Draw me, Lord, and I will run after Thee.

1 - "Homily V"


  1. The topic is immense and avoided because even God has a place for the other fear...that of punishment: Mt.10:28 " And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.". This Christ said to the disciples as He sent them out into persecution contexts. Very unpastoral as we moderns use the term but He subsequently assures them of love also...." you are worth more than many sparrows. In Verbum Domini sect.42, Benedict had a very hard time with the massacres of the Old Testament but if I could quiz him I would ask..." what then do you think of the worst one which was announced by Christ...70 A.D. when the Catholic homilist is likely to restrict the subject to the predictions about no stone lying on another stone...when in fact between 600,000 and 1.1 million were killed because Jerusalem had not known the hour of its visitation (Lk.19:44) according to Christ who also indicated her sins were filled up (Mt.23:32) ( an important variable....see Gen.15:16). Our homilists don't deal with this frightening side because they miss the mercy in these events. See Wisdom 12 (whole chapter) in tandem with Gen.15:16.....God endured patiently Canaanite cannibalism of their own children for four hundred years plus PRIOR to mandating the herem or dooms of them. God endured the identical paganism from his own people later for even more centuries plus the northern kingdom of Samaria added calf worship at Dan and Bethel which even Jehu countenanced while he stopped Baal worship and obeyed God's herem of the house of Ahab.
    With both groups God punished lightly and slowly at first for centuries...centuries.. but they did not listen to light punishments (see Wisdom 12:10:..." But condemning them by degrees, you gave them space for repentance." said about those whom Joshua would later massacre per God's
    order. Did God kill the Jews for identical acts? Not for over a millenium...He tried exile first. Jerusalem 70 AD where Christ said preborns would die within their women...came from God only after a thousand years of recurring betrayal. Were the preborns guilty? No. Were you guilty personally for Adam's choice? No. But you die due to it...physically. Was David's baby by Bathsheba guilty of adultery and murder? No. But he died physically ( not spiritually) because of it. Few Catholics advert to Exodus 20:5 that says God punishes those fathers who hate Him down to the third and fourth generation. But I think its key to uderstanding Christ here in Luke 19:44..." tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you.". The preborns in 70 AD were as innocent as David's baby whom God took instead of David. They were punished not spiritually but physically as we are for Adam.
    What you have written about fearing separation from God as Friend is true but at the upper end of human fear ( " perfect love casteth out fear"). But man needs both...the upper end and the lower end of the fear spectrum. Perhaps the contemplative needs only the upper end. But Christ surely spoke of both and many of our homilists do not.

  2. Great reflection. Thank you!
    +God bless