“Would you rather be feared or respected? I’d rather be feared, because when you are feared, respect is automatic.”
I vividly remember my first attempt at trying to share the Gospel. Religion class was an every semester thing at my high school so conversation about the faith was not a rare thing. And if the fear of God is the beginning of all knowledge, I must admit, “I’m a bad Christian.”
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” – Proverbs 9:10
While working out in my friend’s garage, he confessed his doubts about God. He rattled about the ills of the world, the atrocities in the Bible, and the concept of “only believing to not go to hell.” I was caught off guard, to be honest. The non-existent catechism of my childhood from various non-denom and Baptist churches had me ill-prepared. I mean, I could have recited an altar call, but this was not the time.
I knew one thing, and one thing only, “Christ came and died for us because of his love for us.” So that is what I professed. To be honest, I totally ignored the fear of God angle. I talked about his loving actions and how operating out of fear is not a good posture. I was not a believer due to being afraid, so how could I promote that?
I practiced basketball constantly, not because I was scared of it, but because I loved winning and loved the game. Everything I was passionate about was geared out of love and not fear. Even today this dynamic is true. I do not cheat on my wife because I am scared, but because I love her.
Needless to say, my first evangelism task did not go well. I presented a solid case, but the ills of the world and evil done by Christians, like the Crusades, were too much of a hill to climb. But I cannot say that I learned from this trial, because I still have the same overall tact today.
“We love because he first loved us” – 1 John 4:19
In a conversation, I look for the first exit ramp to get to “Christ crucified.” God coming in flesh, to fullfill the law, to die, and then to rise, all for us. Such love, such mercy, such compassion!
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” – John 15:13
The context of this passage is not directly applicable to Christ loving us, but this is exactly what he did—he freely laid his life down for us. Maybe one day I will focus more on wrath, judgement day, hell, etc…