As we continue to devote ourselves to prayer this summer I want to draw our attention to one particular aspect of life for the churches in Acts; fear. One characteristic passage says this:
“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.”
I want to ask you to pray for God to teach us about the fear of the Lord. The believers in Acts where in awe of who God was and what he did. Unbelievers commonly experienced this same awe, but for different reasons, when they encountered members of the church. This fear, this astounded reverence was a hallmark of the church.
On the other hand, the modern church can seem flippant. We may not say “Jesus is my home boy” as some t-shirts do, but our attitude and approach to God sometimes lingers near presumption. Our worship songs celebrate that he is “our” God and celebrate how he makes us feel. Somehow our casual cultural ethos seeps into everything. Ain’t it cool to hang out with the Holy Spirit?
Now, I do not want to diminish the fact that God loves us and tells us to boldly approach his throne. Nor do I want to suggest that Jesus has not invited us into an intimate relationship with his Father through the Holy Spirit. But I do want to remind us that when the early church discovered these same truths great fear was the result.
God is good, but he is also dangerous. He is dangerous to independence. He is dangerous to sin. He his dangerous to hypocrisy. He is dangerous for those who do not live their lives open to his searching eyes. He is the heart-knower, and we must let him examine us daily.
To fear God is, among other things, to care deeply what he thinks of us, to ask him to judge us, test us, and reprove us. We know he loves us enough to send his Son to renew us in his image. If we do not gaze into the dazzling light of his countenance with the desire to be constantly changed by it, we are in danger scorning his grace.
Please pray that God would teach us to walk in the fear of the Lord. Ask him to send his Spirit in such a way that sin could not comfortably dwell in our midst. May this summary of the church in Acts come to reflect our congregation more and more:
“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”