Sunday, March 4, 2012

From Fear To Love

"They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave"

(Psalm 49:6-9)

The psalmist paints a stark reminder of the fate of all human beings - rich or poor, wise or fools. In his letter to the Romans, Paul draw our attention to the relationship between sin and death:

“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died – from the time of Adam to the time of Moses – even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did.” (Romans 5:12-14)

The story of Adam and Eve is to help us understand life and death by recognizing the reality of the spiritual dimension of life. Adam is our human nature - seeking to live a life without God - a life that is focused on trying to add years to one's life on earth. It is a life that is under bondage to the forces of evil that enslave us through our fear of death.

Jesus came to set us free from the fear of death and suffering by opening the way to God's throne of grace. Through Christ our relationship with God as our Heavenly Father is restored so that we can add life to our moments, days, weeks, months or years. In Christ we can do so whether we are young or old, rich or poor, healthy or sick.

Jesus came to transform our superstitious fear of God to a healthy reverential awe of God as our Creator as well as our loving Heavenly Father. We are then empowered to walk in God's ways and seek His will because we want to love Him with all our minds, our hearts and our souls.

But we will encounter the "desert" experiences of life and the dark night of the soul in the surrender of all that we are and all that we have to the will of God. Lent is a time to remind us that the road to eternal life is not a shortcut from suffering but a path through suffering. David Rensberger noted that the lesson of the desert is that we need to remain attentive to God and to stay utterly dependent on Him. As we do so, our neurotic fear of God will be transformed to a vibrant love for God.

Lent is therefore a time to refocus our attention on God instead of ourselves. Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Heavenly Father, hallowed be Your Name," so that we will not be afraid of God but we will be fearful of dishonoring His Name. We will become lovers of God who want to honour Him instead of trying to be performers of the world seeking the approval of men.

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