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Entries in Taking Hold of God (2)


Remember rather than blame

It's not uncommon for those who grew up in the church, and who have become disenchanted with it, to blame the church they grew up in. I've seen it and I've heard it from young people around me. 

They were hypocrites.

They were legalistic.

They weren't relevant.

They only wanted to control me.

They were anti-intellectual.

Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.

It's almost as if having a loving church home, loving parents, and people who encouraged them in the things of God is a mark against them. Far better to be unruly and angst-ridden and then have a dramatic turn around. That is the stuff of gripping testimonies and viral blog posts.

Kevin DeYoung, in Taking God at His Word, spends the last chapter in exhortation. Beginning with II Timothy 3:16-17, he encourages the reader to do what Paul commands in that passage: continue.  He says that whether we falter and feel confused, we ought to continue in what we have been taught, and to keep steady on. I think that's brilliant advice.

Furthermore, he exhorts people to remember those who have taught them the word and who have lived godly lives before them:

Obviously, not everyone is blessed to grow up with good parents and good churches. But this doesn't make Paul's command to Timothy any less appropriate for those of us who did. Think of your Sunday school teachers. Think of your youth group leaders. Think of your pastors. Think of your dad. Think of your grandparents. Thing of your mom. Did they not have your best interests at heart? Did they not love you? Were they imposters Were they wrong in everything they stood for? Is it reasonable for you to conclude that those who came before you, those who taught you to trust the Bible, those who have more experience and probably more wisdom than you -- that suddenly they are benighted morons? Are they deserving of your cynicism, rejection, or scorn?

I realize that the Christian blog world is inundated with stories of leaders who failed, who abused, who sinned grievously. But, believe it or not, there are still good people who believe God's Word and live by it. I often find that it is the people who grew up without that familial and church suppport who hold on most fiercely. I did not grow up with such a heritage. When I was looking for truth, I seemed to be on a fruitless search. I wanted someone to guide me. When I worked in youth ministry, I had a hard time relating to the kids who had been in church since infancy, and looked at what we had to offer them in the way of Scriptural teaching, and turn up their noses and say, "Um, no, but thanks, anyway." Why did they not want truth?

There are still people who love the Word of God and cling tenaciously to it. Continuing on does not bring a lot of fame, and the naysayers seem to command a bigger audience wherever they go, but we must continue. 


Ungodly fear versus Godly fear

In a discussion of William Perkins's exposition of the Lord's Prayer, J. Stephen Yuille comments on how Perkins viewed the fear of God:

When we speak of the fear of God, it is important to distinguish between ungodly and godly fear. Perkins affirmed that these two are distinguished by our perception of God. Ungodly fear is the result of viewing God as a potential source of harm, and it causes people to take steps to minimize the perceived threat while continuing steadfast in their sin. For Perkins, this ungodly fear occurs when people fear only God's punishment. In marked contrast, godly fear is the result of viewing God as the greatest good. This may include a fear of God's wrath, but it is not limited to this; on the contrary, it focuses on God's majesty. Perkins maintained that this fear is synonymous with fearing God's name --- the fullest revelation of His glory. It is a fear that grips the affections, thereby making a divide between the soul and sin. In other words, it is a fear that manifests itself in the pursuit of holiness.

I found Perkins's comment about minimizing the perceived threat quite interesting. Before I was converted, I did indeed have a fear of God. When I was a teenager, the world's bogeyman was the USSR, and threats of nuclear annhiliation at the hands of the Soviets was something some of the more fear mongering teachers talked about, thus creating fear in our teenaged hearts. I certainly did have a fear; a fear that I was not fit to stand before God should he visit the earth, which would surely accompany the bombs likely to fall.

The solution? For a long a time, I simply chose to believe that a loving God would never hurt those he created. Did I alter my lifestyle? Not really. That was not a healthy fear. That was not a godly fear. I didn't understand godly fear until I was confronted with my sin, and I think many people have similar experiences.