Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” Exodus 20:18-20
A little over a month ago my husband and I attended a conference (Rev. Al Houghton of Word At Work Ministries) on returning the fear of the Lord to the church. One of the phrases which stuck in my head from the sessions that weekend was this: “God’s game, God’s rules.” It seems we have forgotten that we serve a God who is also Holy and Just, not only one who is full of grace and mercy (which, of course, He is). Without God’s justice, God’s mercy and grace have no real meaning.
Let me give you an example. I know you have seen parents do what I am about to describe. I know I have seen it more times than I can count. “Little Johnnie” is acting up. In fact, “Little Johnnie” is acting like a tyrant. Mom and Dad say, “Now Johnnie, that’s not nice. Please stop that. If you don’t stop that, I am going to put you in ‘time out.'” Of course, “Little Johnnie” doesn’t stop because he has rightly discerned there will be no real negative consequences to his bad behavior. He keeps getting away with acting like a tyrant, and thus continues his outrageous behavior.
Why is it we think this is any different in our spiritual lives? Just because we don’t teach in the church about the eternal consequences of sin, doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Like “Little Johnnie,” we have determined in our minds that God doesn’t mean what He says in His Word. We have become so focused on the forgiveness, grace, and mercy of God, that we have forgotten His justice.
We have forgotten that this is God’s game and we have to play by His rules. It is irrelevant whether we like those rules or not.
If we are playing baseball, it doesn’t matter if we don’t like the rule: “three strikes and you’re out.” Pick your sport. Every game has an official set of rules which govern it. If we want to play that game, we must abide by those rules. The Umpire in baseball administers the rules set by the American League and National League. He has the “final say” on any given “play” during the game. It doesn’t matter if we don’t like his “call,” his decisions stand. Disrespect of that umpire is never tolerated because he has the authority to manage the game.
We have stripped God of His authority in our lives. We have taken the attributes of God which we like: mercy, grace, forgiveness, love, and patience. We have rejected those attributes which make us uncomfortable: justice, holiness, righteousness, and judgement.
We have completely removed fear of the Lord from the church. He is no longer our God, He has been relegated to the realm of our “chum.”
Our pastor is currently preaching through the book of Genesis. In a recent sermon he stated that we all want justice but nobody wants judgement. He went on to convince us that the two are interconnected. Any attorney will tell you that in a court of law, there can be no justice administered unless judgement has been pronounced.
We are all in the “game of life.” This remains God’s game and therefore it is still His set of rules.
It would be well for us to remember:
“God is not a buttercup.” Otto Scott
“He is not a tame lion.” C.S. Lewis about Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia
Related Article: “The Fear Of The Lord And Revival” by Disciple Gideon
Rev. Al Houghton; Word At Work Ministries: http://www.wordatwork.org/
Copyright © 2012 by Susan E. Johnson
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