Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fear of God

The following piece by Phillips Brooks gives insight into what it means to fear God in a way which I think is as close to the truth as anything I've read.

 “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.’ Ps. 25:14

 Every living thing which is really worth the knowing has a secret in it which can be known only by a few. The forms and methods of things lie open to whoever chooses to study them, but the essential lives of things are hidden away where some special sympathy or concern must find them. We can all tell how true this is with people. A careful study of the outside of a man will tell you many things but all such shrewd and careful watching will not tell you those things which we all hold back, reserved for only a few. We are deeper than our actions reveal. For example, we know the outside of a hundred houses in town, but only our own house and two or three others do we know the inner chambers and private rooms.
The greater the person is the more open and honest he will appear on the outside and the more secret is the secret of his life. Now whether we can discover the secret of life in others or not, we are aware of our own. We all know how little other people know about us. Others do not know the mainspring and the master motives that make us who we are; our purpose, spirit and intentions as well as our past experiences not many know, and we fully open our hearts to only a few.
What is necessary before one will let another read their secrets, their motives, or shall we sum it up and say the genius or our lives? It is not mere curiosity; we know how that shuts up the nature which it tries to read. Not mere awkward good-will, that too crushes the flower which it tries to examine. What is it? I think the first and foremost of them all is respect. We will not share the real secrets of our lives, the spring and power of our living to anyone who does not respect us.
No friendship, no kindliness can make you show it to them unless they truly see us as a serious, almost sacred thing. You must think there is something deep in nature or you will find nothing there. You must have an awe of the mystery and sacredness in your fellow-man or his mystery and sacredness will escape you.
Now this sense of mystery and sacredness is what we gather into that word fear referred to in the text.
It is that feeling with which you step across the threshold of a great deserted temple or into some vast dark mysterious cavern. It is not terror: that would make you turn and run away. Terror is a blinding and deafening emotion. Terror shuts up our ability to know and understand.  You do not get at the secret of anything which frightens you, but fear, as we use it now, is quite a different emotion. It is a large, deep sense of the majesty and importance of anything, a reverence and respect for it. Without that no man can understand another, much less God.

As we approach God with a deep sense of His majesty, His mystery, His awesome power, we will see His secrets. It sees the love, which is behind every commandment, and His one purpose, which He has concerning us: to draw us towards and shape us into His likeness. The making of man like Himself by the power of love, that, in one word, is the purpose of God, which is the secret of the Lord!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

  I find myself frequently in a dilemma; I read posts about the actions of our government, our rights that are disintegrating more and more, freedoms we lose, groups for unrighteousness that succeed and grow and at every door evil abounds. In short, the political arena and the important issues to which there is no end. What should be my response? My involvement? How do we overcome evil? Of course I have no definitive answer, but I do know what spirit I am of, and I thought I’d try and write down some of my thoughts.
When I find myself distressed about an issue, and it raises my emotions and distresses me, I think that is God’s way of motivating me to do something.
I read that the nobility and dignity of any work is measured by the powers, which it demands and uses. If, like Jesus, I want to fulfill and not destroy, I will consider the frame of mind I’m in when doing a work or trying to further a cause. If I just want to destroy, that takes nothing more than hatred and vigor. I can curse the darkness at the top of my lungs, but until I light a candle it will be of no avail. “Just to stand up in the community, and abuse its corruptness, or its irreligion, that is so easy, but to take the suppressed generosity, or the half-conscious religion of a community and educated it and encourage it, to take the remnant seeds of good and kindle them, that takes hard work. The one takes only hatred and vehemence; the other needs love and intelligence and patience and hope.” Phillips Brooks.

So again, I know what Spirit Jesus had, I know what frame of mind I need to be in to thrive and grow, so if I allow myself to get drawn into an emotional frenzy for every cause, I will become ineffective, anxiety ridden, anger filled and ultimately distant from God rendering me completely incompetent. So I pick the battles that I think I’m qualified to succeed in and spend my energy there; and on the other fronts, I support those who choose to focus there, and I vote and give financial support; past that, I will have to trust that life will go on without me, and frankly, in most arenas it will probably be better off. No cause needs a cynical, angry, ill-natured proponent, they usually cause more harm than good and we are taught to persuade with patience, gentleness and love, without exception.  So there’s my feeble attempt to share my strategy.