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 Vol. 5, No. 10 

October 2003

~ Page 15 ~

Fear -- The Random and the Right

By Andrew J. Robison

Image There is a difference between random fear and righteous, godly fear. Random crimes cause whole communities to live in a justifiable paranoia. Terrorists, by definition, leave some of that effect upon a country. Those affected painfully note the absence of even distorted reason behind acts of violence. The slain and injured committed no particular crime, offended no particular crime boss and warranted no such treatment. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time was their tragic misfortune. The living about them mourn -- and worry. Who might be next? The behavior of individuals doesn't matter. Living righteously will not ensure exemption from the sniper's bullet or the terrorist's hate. This is random fear.

The Christian has the opportunity to overcome random fear with the victory of faith. Jittery though he might be, the Christian knows of bliss beyond temporal sufferings in this life. He knows of justice beyond a world of injustices. But, the Christian still fears. Yes, 1 John 4:18 taunts "perfect love casts out fear," but Philippians 2:12 reminds the saved to work out their salvation "with fear and trembling." There is a fear of God that is justified; but it is so much better than random fear. And it is so for that very reason -- it is just.

Violent men who try to play God by instilling fear in a locale's citizenry do so arbitrarily, without any sense of fair play. God, however, is a righteous judge (1 Timothy 4:8). He is quite different in his approach. Consider the following ways:

Yes, God expects reverence, awe and, in those senses, fear. The difference between the fear of God and the fear of evil men is quite simple. We do not know what to expect from evil men. We do not know how randomly their "judgments" will take place. We do know there will be no reason behind it. There will be no discernment of the deserving from the undeserving, the penitent from the stubborn. But, we know what to expect from God and how to avoid his wrath. There is no randomness to it. We can know that we know him and are prepared for eternity (1 John 2:3,4). We can also know if we are being disobedient and thus if we will be condemned when judgment occurs. Thus, although we know not when that great judgment day will occur, we can, indeed, hasten it, anticipate it and then welcome it as our salvation and not as our suffering (2 Peter 3:11,12; Titus 2:13).Image

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