They opted for distance because of discomfort…

The fear of God is apparently the beginning of wisdom. I’m pretty sure I misunderstood the fear of God for my whole life. I’m very familiar with the classic understanding of the fear of God being essentially reverence. I don’t necessarily dispute this but I have questions over how we’re meant to respond to experiencing the fear of God. Let’s jump in!

Months ago I was trolling through John chapters 5 through the end of chapter 8 and I came across something that echoed through me from another part of scripture.

In Exodus 20 we find one of the most spectacular revelations of God to be found in all scripture. He starts by putting into place a safe boundary zone around the mountain and then speaks directly in a giant, booming, audible voice to the liberated slave children of Israel. Nothing I could possibly write here could possibly do this encounter any justice so you’re best to just open up Exodus 20 and read it yourself. After this encounter, the people of Israel were terrified, thinking they were definitely about to die and their response is to ask God to change the way He’s relating to them. You wonder why God doesn’t speak in a giant booming audible voice? We’ve tried that. We (people) aren’t super keen. The people who got to try it first hand asked God to communicate with them differently by speaking to Moses and then Moses can speak to them and they’ll totally listen. (Except not at all)

They opted for distance because of discomfort.

When I was reading through John 8, I found an echoed invitation into a new encounter with God. John chapters 5 through 8 is the passage where Jesus is telling the Pharisees what’s up and ends up saying, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

The Jewish people’s reaction was to try to stone Him. They were operating from the same slave-master relationship their ancestors had been in Exodus 20 and thus were understandably afraid of the ramifications of someone they perceived to be a man saying he literally was God. Their fear was expressed through pious religious anger.

They opted for distance because of discomfort.

So what?

In my experience, when God invites us into a deeper revelation of who He is, it comes at a price. We’ll likely encounter some discomfort. So, we have a decision to make, just like the liberated slave children of Israel in Exodus 20 and the Jewish people that day in Capernaum during the Feast of Tabernacles in John 8. We can choose distance which is more comfortable, or a new level of nearness which means choosing discomfort and pushing through our fear.

Here’s the thing friends, on the other side of discomfort and fear is the infinite love which abolishes every fear and comforts every pain. Still, I bet when God told Moses to cross the safety line around the mountain Moses had at least a moment’s hesitation in his heart. At the end of the day it’s our reaction to the invitation, the decision to cross that boundary that makes all the difference.

Does this have anything to do with the fear of the Lord? Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “They opted for distance because of discomfort…

  1. In spite of my authentic need to draw near to God and my frequent, albeit somewhat shallow attempts to do so, I too often choose distance over discomfort. The times when I have chosen discomfort in favour of nearness,resulted in much fruit in my life and in my relationship with God. Also, a little controversy. Thanks for explaining the invitation from the Lord through this lens. It will motivate me to go deeper more often and risk the discomfort in favour of minimizing the distance between us.

    Liked by 1 person

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