The Right Fear
We are human, we live in a physical world surrounded by other humans, and really, our only perspective or point of view is from what we know. That's one clear example of why we must read, study and come to know God's Word, so we can know the mind of God thus knowing God Himself. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Philippi, said we need to "have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:...". Now I don't want to take that out of its context, Paul is talking about, I believe specifically, Christian's relationships with other Christians, and perhaps if we act righteously that spills over into our relationship with other people in general. He then in vs 6-8 explains what aspect(s) of Christ we should assimilate with. (Phil 2:5-8)
So we have clear instruction in scripture not to understand things as the world around us does, but to comprehend the nature, love, servant-hood and humble submission to His Father that Christ displayed in His own earthly life for us to see and learn to imitate.
With that in mind, let's consider that most of this world likely comes up short in our conception or image of God. From a worldly way of thinking, most people give God no preeminence or fail to recognize His supremacy altogether. Others, with sincere hearts in many instances, chose to recognize God, (or that there is a God), and perhaps respect who He is and what He has done. Then those of us, with very sincere hearts, attempt to submit and place ourselves under His control. And while that is to be admired and appreciated in comparison to those who fail to recognize God, we need to insure it measures up to what God expects. Our job, if we have the mind of Christ, is to strive to recognize God as Christ did, and submit to Him as Christ did.
If we limit our response to God to recognition and respect, I believe we still distance ourselves from God, because we fall short of full submission, standing in awe, and revering Him. Reverence and awe far surpass recognition and respect. Although pleasing God likely must begin with recognition and respect, we must not let that be the end of it. We have a necessity and a responsibility to progress past that, to where God is our everything. We, driven by that respect, admire, adore, exalt, honor, worship, esteem and love God. We stand amazed and humbled at His love for us, and we reciprocate that love by rendering obedience and sharing Him with others. While we can never match what God gives to us, we try and respond to Him as He has responded to us.
God is described in the Old Testament like this, "For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God..." (Deut 10:17) In Numbers 22:8-13, Balaam respected this God, but failed to revere Him. Let us not make the same mistake in our lives. Let us see God, not just as one deserving of some respect, but THE one deserving of ALL respect, ALL honor, ALL praise, ALL love, ALL submission and worthy of our complete obedience to Him.
The wisest man in scripture, King Solomon, wrote these words, "Now that all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind." (Eccl 12:13) This "fear" that Solomon talks about is the reverence we have mentioned. God is to be feared, but because of His love, His promises and His will, we need not be afraid as long as we are walking in His light, and revering Him as He requires. On the flip side however, if we ignore Him, we indeed should fear Him because the punishment He has reserved for such dissenters will be poured out some day, just as He has promised.
Let us, as Christian people, grow up in our understanding of God and get way-way past just recognizing Him and respecting Him. Let us get to where out of love and respect, we revere Him and proclaim with boldness out of confidence and understand that OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD!