But I will show you whom you should fear:
Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
I don't think Christians fear the Lord enough. I'm talking about the fear of standing in front of Him on Judgment Day; on the day when our lives will be purified by fire and we see every thought, word and deed that made up our lives. I'm talking about perceiving Him as so Powerful, and so Holy that we tremble at the contemplation of standing before Him.
You see, we have made sin so tolerable in this "enlightened age." We have rationalized it, justified it, excused it, defended it, and explained all the reasons why it's not so bad. We have relegated sin to the recesses of our minds, where it's not likely to prick our consciences and ruin our fun.
Instead we choose to fear carnal things such as our financial standing, getting sick, losing our job, being alone. There are any number of things that take our focus off our obedience to Him.
There was a time in this country when we would have entered a Church sanctuary and trembled as we reviewed our lives the prior week. We would have been well aware that our God knew everything we had done, and that we were accountable to Him. But today, millions of people go to Church and enter the auditorium (the understanding of "sanctuary" has been lost) to be entertained and to feel good about themselves. They have turned their attention from God to themselves, and what He can do for them.
In the last 50 years or so, we American Christians decided we no longer liked the "hellfire and brimstone" sermons. Our country was prospering; people were living lavish lifestyles -- why bring us down? After all, wasn't God being good to us? But we never stopped to think that our focus had shifted from the next life to this life. We were consumed with "living for today", and today was lookin' good! We wanted to hear sermons on Prosperity and God's Goodness. Why think about the Next Life when This Life gave us everything we desired?
Our churches began to reflect our lifestyle and our mentality. Our preachers no longer warned us about a coming Judgment Day or the reality of Hell. In fact, I have personally attended churches that denied there even IS a hell! Not only were we not convicted of the consequences of our sins, but the knowledge of God's plan for our Salvation through Justification, Sanctification and Glorification slipped from our theological lexicon. When was the last time you heard any of these terms explained from the pulpit, let alone expounded upon? When was the last time you were encouraged to read your Bible and find out for yourselves why these terms are mentioned over and over and over again? What happened to sermons that warned of what would happen if we ran away from God's Word, instead of towards it?
Any truly regenerated Christian knows in his heart that our God is not happy with this world. We see the wickedness in the land, and the refusal to repent -- both by God's people and those who reject Him! I don't know if it is too late to delay God's wrath or not; I only know that we deserve His anger and rage for the sins we have committed against Him. I also know that He has drawn me closer to Him, and that my life has changed as I come to know Him for who He is, and how big He is.
He has made me fully aware that my life is not my own; it belongs to Him and I will owe Him an accounting on that day when I stand before Him. And you can bet that I will be shaking, and my knees will be knocking as I wait in humility to hear His voice tell me if my service pleased Him. I assure you that I will be trembling in pure reverence, awe, and yes .... fear.