How's that for a definite answer? On the one hand, we have plenty of verses that command us to fear the Lord. Abraham was blessed because he feared God. "Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing" (Psalm 34:9). Seems pretty straightforward.
Then we read passages like this one written by the apostle John: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18). Love drives out fear, so how can we fear a God we love and who loves us?
When angels appear to people in the Bible, the angels often say, "Don't be afraid." Yet in Revelation, one angel says, "Fear God and give him glory" (Revelation 14:7).
So, should I be afraid of God?
The example that helps me understand a bit of this is the example of electricity. I sit in an office day after day, surrounded by electricity. There are electrical cables in the walls around me and in the ceiling over my head. Numerous power cords are plugged in near my feet.
I'm not afraid. In fact, I'm glad that I have electricity in my office. It gives me light and lets me use my computer and other devices. I'm not afraid of electricity. But I'm not going to stick a fork into an outlet, either. I respect electricity and know what it can do. If I see a bare wire, I'm careful not to touch it. I fear electricity and its power.
I shouldn't live a fearful life, walking around thinking that God is going to strike me down at any time. That's not love. That's not what God wants. But I should have reverence for God and his power. I should recognize that he is my Creator. He is the Holy One. I should fear God and respect who he is.
Do you fear God? Are you living a life of reverence? If not, then I don't think you know who God is.
Fear God. Respect him. But don't be afraid to draw close to him.
If you have questions about how to have a loving relationship with God, one that drives out the bad fear, then write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or leave a comment on our blog at www.hopeforlife.org.