The Friendship and the Fear

Recording artist Matt Redman's 1997 album was entitled The Friendship and the Fear. The phrase is a profound one and contains within it one of the keys to living the Christian life.

The concept of friendship with God is central to us as believers. In 1 John 3:1 we read, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!." Jesus said to his disciples, "I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15). And Paul prays, "...that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation" (Eph. 3:17). Growing in our knowledge of God's passionate love for us is foundational to the Christian life.

But what about the fear of the Lord? Paul writes in Phil. 2:12 that we are to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." And Peter writes, "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth" (1 Peter 1:17). The fear of the Lord is not just an Old Testament concept, it's a New Testament one, too. And it was a mark of the early church which "grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord" (Acts 9:31).

Both the love of God and the fear of the Lord must be embraced by the Christian. I've found that the more I'm immersed in a deep sense of God's love for me, the more I'm inclined toward obedience. And the more I walk in obedience and fear, the greater my joy. Jesus articulates this truth in John 15:9-11: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

Holding the friendship and the fear in a healthy balance and allowing them to work together is key to joyful Christian living.

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