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I agree that the word fear has come to mean something different over time. For me, fear is best translated as "inspiring awe and reverence." He is clearly God, and I am clearly not. That's fear in the biblical sense of the word, and it's also true. I should have both fear (awe) and comfort in the idea that God spoke the universe into being. His words carry power--the power to destroy and judge as well as the power to create and heal and comfort and strengthen. That is an awe-inspiring power.
Hopefully, this will be moved to the discussion group. The question of fear is a question that often has semantic confusion. For, the denotation of the word fear has certainly been altered in more recent times. Before the twenty-first century, children feared their parents, yet they loved them very much. For, the word fear used to imply--if it no longer does--respect. Indeed, few people do respect anyone that they do not fear to some extent.
To return to fearing God, the denotation of the word long ago was that people had a great respect for Him and a fear of doing wrong as God did punish. When the Israelites of the Old Testament disobeyed God they came to fear Him as He often punished them. One of the Ten Commandments demands that people "Honor the Lord thy God." Is there not a little fear involved in this condition? After all, if people love others, they are afraid of hurting them or going against them in some way.
I can only answer this question from a very personal perspective.
I do not believe in God because I want to. I believe in God because I see his hand in creation, in history, in my own life, and the lives of other people.
Similarly, I do not want to believe in a God whom one must fear. Rather, my definition of God requires me to fear Him. I believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and able to punish wrongdoing. Thus, it is only natural that I fear God.
This does not negate my belief that God is also the source of infinite love and mercy, and that I must therefore love Him.
Obviously, this is a matter of personal faith and no one can tell you what to believe. My own personal opinion is that different people find their own ways to God and that there is no one way that is right for all.
But to try to explain the idea of a God you are supposed to fear... I think that, to believe this, you have to see human beings as similar to children. We think that we understand pretty much everything and that we know a lot. But so do little kids. We know way more than little kids do and understand things in ways that they have a hard time imagining.
Well, what if there is a God who is that far "above" us. If there is a God who made the universe and who can comprehend it all, that God would surely be way above me in understanding.
Going with that assumption, then shouldn't my relationship with that God be similar to the relationship between a child and an adult? Shouldn't I fear that God in some ways because I cannot really understand God and the things that he (as if God has a sex) understands?
So I think that the idea is that God is so much more intelligent than we are that we cannot understand "him." We just have to do as he says and be afraid of the consequences if we do not.
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