So, what is “healthy” Fear?
Dictionary.com does provide a definition of the type of fear we should have for God:
FEAR: reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God. Synonyms: awe, respect, reverence, veneration.
We should have a reverential fear of God – the word reverential (reverent) meaning deep respect/admiration/esteem/honor/ to revere. It’s the same type of fear we should have towards our parents and authority figures – not that we are afraid of them in the sense as a wife to an abusive husband (or children to an abusive parent) but we rather respect and honor them with our obedience because we are aware of what disobedience brings about. It’s not a love out of force or because we feel we MUST instead we are compelled to love and from that, we are compelled to be obedient. We stand in awe of our Creator because He is our Creator and we realize we can’t function without Him or His wisdom, grace, mercy. Our fear comes because we know what it is to be separate from God, under bondage, in slavery to the evil one and his kingdom – basically sitting on death row but with God’s grace – He snatched us away!
When you come into God’s presence and you begin to have intimacy with Him, it is difficult to imagine yourself going back to the slop the world has to offer – even when we face difficulties on this earth or because of our faith. We also recognize our behavior has consequences – just like those who had loving but firm parents – you knew they loved you, but you also knew they were fair and just and if you did something wrong you would be disciplined accordingly. However, that didn’t stop you from developing a relationship and loving your parents (some of us may have experienced actual abuse and other pains from our parents as a result of the pain and disobedience in their lives – this is not a reflection of God or His love for us – as human parents, even at their best, are nothing compared to God our Father).
A reverential fear of God does not produce the same feelings that you get when you are concerned about going to hell or upsetting a family member. One fear comes from the Spirit of God and the other the world and you can always tell which one you are operating under by testing your motives and how you feel towards God.
When I served God out of fear, it was more of a burden – I was always worried about what I had done wrong and spent a lot of time trying NOT to sin and “hiding” sins to keep up appearances but I didn’t feel connected to God, I certainly didn’t feel loved or that I was one of His most beloved daughters…and I didn’t see the sacrifice of Christ as something that was done for ME – maybe others but not me – I didn’t take it personally. True, I knew the scripture, I said the words, I participated in the ritual – but it took nothing more than a few people and a few harsh words to get me away from God and that’s because there were no roots to keep me grounded in Him. My relationship was built on wanting to get to heaven and please humans around me – it had absolutely nothing to do with God and that was evident to any who paid attention.