Friends Who Fear
‘It is a dreadful thing to fall in the hands of the living God.’ (Heb. 10: 31)
Because of Jesus, I am a friend of God. And because of Jesus, I fear God. By that I mean I revere Him and tremble at His Word. He is a friend I don’t want to mess with.
That the Creator and Redeemer of all would stoop down to raise us up baffles me; that He also calls us friends blows my mind. What I do know is that such friendship is ours only because of the radical initiative of the Father and equally radical obedience of the Son. Only through their willingness to endure the Divine Wound—the Cross–in which both suffered the loss of each other, are we free to be His friends.
Our friendship with God cost Him everything. I do not minimize the vast and profound victory of His blood and broken body. I savor its sweetness daily. But as I ingest that Holy Meal I realize that He has also laid claim to me: I am no longer my own. He purchased me at an inestimable price. The Eucharist frees us to know this on a bodily level in a way that corresponds with St. Paul’s exhortation that believers flee all forms of sexual immorality because our bodies are no longer ours to do what we will. They are His, members of Christ. (I Cor. 6: 12-20)
I tremble when I consider what I could do with my body or another’s. This friend of God fears defiling the houses where He dwells. I fear the God who created all human temples and who will hold me accountable for whether I dignified fellow image-bearers or reduced them to my lusts. That is not a phobic, ‘shame-based’ response to socially unacceptable desires. That is holy fear based on allegiance to a holy God. Such fear inspires holy love and awe for our fellow humanity precisely because they belong to Him.
Perhaps part of the slide of the American church into a kind of apostasy, sexually-speaking, is due to the fact that we have emphasized friendship with God to the neglect of fearing Him. We may well use the language of the Cross as the way into such friendship. But then we conveniently remove the Cross as the sign and seal of our new humanity and the reverence with which we are to treat others.
I fear for those who claim to be Jesus’ friends but show no fear in regards to what they do to their, or others’, bodies. Pray urgently for friends who have no fear.
‘If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, who has insulted the Spirit of grace?’ (Heb. 10: 26-29)