Being scared can be useful

My mother once told me about her frustrating attempts to teach my brother not to touch the electric socket when he was a small inquisitive boy. She even tried play acting – pretending to touch it herself and make dramatic owwww noises… at which point the little four year old calmly assured her that it’s ok, he’s not afraid.

It’s hard, isn’t it, teaching children about avoiding danger – hard to teach them fear when they (thankfully) haven’t yet experienced anything terrible. If nothing bad has happened to you, then warnings about bad things will sound totally abstract. Once you’ve experienced pain, you have much more reason to try to avoid it.

If you don’t know what pain feels like, you can be like my brother when he was little, saying: it’s ok, I’m not scared. And then you’re likely to ignore all warnings and stick your fingers in the electric socket, or run into the road, or try those drugs your friends are into (ok, I’m not thinking about four year olds anymore) or whatever it is that your parents or good friends try to warn you against…

I remember a really good friend back in my misspent twenties who cried in front of me saying how hard it was being my friend, watching me again and again run head on into (metaphorical) brick walls, knowing there’s nothing he could say to make me stop, and then being there in the aftermath to hug me and wipe the blood off.

I get it now. It’s how I feel when I tell people about their need of the Saviour and they’re like: don’t worry about me, I’ll be ok…

The Bible says that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom.

If your concept of God is that he’s some kind of Santa Claus in the sky, or some kind of cuddly softy who doesn’t mind what you do and isn’t all that fussed about what you believe, then you won’t have reason to heed my warnings, you can happily go through life thinking it doesn’t matter if you turn to Christ, he’s just one option but not essential, you’ll be ok when the time comes, surely whatever God is like, he’s not going to send people like you to hell…

There’s a Jewish man I know who came to faith in Jesus as a result of the fear of Yahweh. He saw someone killed in battle and it got him thinking: if this happened to me, how will I stand before a holy God? he asked his rabbi, but the rabbi couldn’t give him assurance. Then he met people who introduced him to Jesus – the only one who can provide a real assurance.

and Jesus is the one who warned us: “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

I was going to give you a link to my friend’s account of how he came to faith in Jesus (as a result of a good healthy fear of God), but I can’t find it now – so here’s where you can hear the stories of other Jewish people who, like me, found peace and hope and a complete assurance of salvation through Jesus, the Jewish Messiah who is also the light of the world and the saviour of all mankind! It’s on a website called I found shalom.

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