A Note from Pastor Wood: Fear, Love, and Trust

Luther’s Small Catechism teaches us to “Fear, Love, and Trust in God above all things.” That is the meaning of the first commandment, and the meaning of rest begins with the words, “We should fear and love God...” It comes up in almost every confirmation class and Adult Bible Study. Even for pastors and church workers it can be difficult to articulate what it means to fear God. In our American context the fear of God is not often at the front of our minds. It is simply assumed that if there is a god, he is loving, accepting, and just really wants us all to be happy.

In Deuteronomy we see that the Israelites feared God. Moses quotes them, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.” They also trembled with fear when Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. Their problem was that they did not love or trust God. They all generally assumed that God wanted them dead. The people of Israel cry time and time again against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out to the wilderness to die?!” In Numbers 14:4 they even try to elect a leader to lead them back to Egypt.

In our world today we have a trust and sometimes love but we lack fear. For the Israelites there was fear, but they lacked love and trust. What the Scriptures tell us is that we need to fear, love, and trust in God above all things. This can only be accomplished through the ministry of Jesus. He comes with all of God’s authority and power. The Father rips open the heavens and declares, “This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and on Transfiguration He will add, “Listen to Him!”

Yet, Jesus does not come in wrath, but in love. In his ministry he preaches repentance, he heals many, he casts out demons, he raises the dead. Wherever he goes he makes Eden a present reality. Behold, it is very good in Jesus Christ. This is not just Christ’s love, but it is the Father’s love also. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus doesn’t cancel the wrath and judgment of God. He doesn’t make it go away. He takes it all upon himself. That is love. “We love, because He first loved us.” (1John 4:19).

In Christ we still recognize The Father’s awesome power and authority. He claims us. Makes us slaves, even. That is fear. This fear is guarded by trust and love as we look to Jesus who comes to us to bear the weight of the Father’s power and authority for us. This love, which leads to trust. However, this love and trust can only be real where God is feared.                

…Pastor Wood