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Foundations of Fear and Authority

Many places in scripture we are told that “fear is.” Looking around at our world today, our experience shows us evidence that fear is a driving force, a motivating factor, and a commodity that humans wish were annihilated. The “no fear” slogan can be associated with the bold, brazen, hardened types who drive certain types of vehicles that apparently help them overcome their fears by transporting them to any place they want to go, to do whatever they desire to do because their life has no limits, “no fears.” This natural human response to fear hardens the heart, causing calluses to develop and thus minimizing the affects of fear on these cold-hearted and unfeeling types who blaze ahead in life, supposedly ignoring their fears. Is this what God desires of his people? Is there a better way?

For the Christian, fear is a command. The fear of the Lord is foundational to the Christian life. The fear of the Lord is the foundation of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom; thereby making it the foundation of Christian education. The fear of the Lord is a detriment to sin and a promoter of holiness as Psalm 4:4 indicates when it says, “Stand in awe (trembling, quivering fear) and sin not.” Scripture tells us numerous places what the fear of the Lord is. The fear of the Lord is: clean, the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of knowledge, to hate evil, pride and arrogancy, strong confidence, a fountain of life, the instruction of wisdom, his treasure. These descriptions show us that the fear of the Lord is a precious and valuable commodity, producing wisdom, life, purity, and confidence.

An appropriate reverential fear of God is an absolutely necessary foundation upon which Christian education can then build. This fear of God instills itself in our lives as we observe the power and authority which God wields. This foundational fear of God causes parents to recognize their place of authority- under God’s ultimate authority. As parents we act only out of representative authority given to us by God. If our authoritative parental role fails to mirror and reflect the authority of God carried out in the fear of God for the best benefit of the child whom God has given us, then we are failing.

For a little illustration, the role of parents could be described as “subcontractors under God’s authority,” making the role of the teacher a “second string subcontractor” under God’s authority. If all lines are clear it is not difficult to work as a “sub of a sub”. However, if the first string “subcontractor” (parent) has botched and marred the image of true authority, it may be difficult for the second string “subcontractor” (teacher) to maintain a proper authoritative role in the life of the child. On the other hand, it is also possible that if the first sub has botched the image of authority, that the second string sub can partially rescue, revive, and reveal an appropriate image of authority in the life of the student. The reverse could also be true in that the “second string sub” could botch and mar the image of ultimate authority in the life of a child, even if the “first string sub” has represented it well. This little illustration represents the need for all those in authority over children to act representatively of God’s authority, and not individually out of one’s own “authority.” A proper representation of God’s authority should lead the child to a healthy fear of God.

One might ask, “How can I evaluate my use of authority?” The answer can be found by observing which tools you most commonly use. Since God is Creator, Lawgiver, and ultimate Judge, his presence rightfully produces fear. Where we fail in our authority is in the times where we step into God’s role using threat, manipulation, and guilt to let a child know that they have crossed my design, disobeyed my law, and therefore stand under condemnation of my judgment. Usually these conversations require raised voices and angry faces to produce fear and hopefully submission in the child who has transgressed my law. If this describes your use of authority, you are using human tools and human responses to reach a human goal- not God’s goal. God’s tools look like truth spoken in love, demonstrating to the child that he has transgressed God’s law and God’s design; and therefore, stands under God’s condemnation and in need of God’s forgiveness, redemption, and grace. This approach points the child to the one who was ultimately offended, the one who holds ultimate authority, and determines ultimate consequences; and therefore should ultimately be feared.

As teacher, parents, and grandparents who have great influence in the lives of children, are we promoting an appropriate, reverent fear of God, and are we representing his authority accurately by the use of ours?

-Lyle Musser (Administrator)

Posted by Kristen on Mar 3rd 2015 | Filed in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Foundations of Fear and Authority