One of the greatest failings of the modern church is to soft-pedal or ignore the fear of God. This is one of the main reasons for a neglect of eschatology (the doctrine of the End Times). If we really thought we are going to stand before God individually to answer for our behaviour we would live accordingly. But, as Paul said in Romans 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” As a result, he says, people don’t seek God, and they fall into sin.
Of course, some people don’t believe in God. The rather pathetic atheist bus advert campaign stated: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” “Probably”? What if there is, and he holds us accountable? It’s got to be incredibly unwise to take the risk of relying on thinking there “probably” is “no God.”
It’s the same with the popular word “yolo” which means “you only live once” and it is an excuse to live irresponsibly. As someone said, it should stand for “you oughta look out!” Jesus rebuked people whose philosophy was “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19-20) and called them foolish.
It doesn’t do any good to “roast people over Hell.” But if people are going to face God’s judgement and we don’t warn them about it, as helpfully as possible, we are deeply lacking in love. That is why I think the modern church is lacking in love. We have bought into the relativism of modern society. Anyone can believe anything. Your truth is as valid as my truth even if the two truths contradict one another. Similarly I am free to choose how I shall behave within reason. Modern thinking confuses the equality of all human beings with the equality of all human behaviour. That is a serious fallacy. I believe firmly in the former but not in the latter.
The question is: has God revealed what we should believe and how we should behave? Surely the personal, loving God of Christianity can be expected to have done so. And does he require us to obey him? If that is the case we are very unwise not to find out what he has said and to put it into practice.
It profoundly concerns me that people don’t realise they are accountable to God – and, frankly, that applies to some Christians as well, judging by their behaviour. I believe God is love as much as anybody. But he is also a holy judge before whom we each must stand one day.
Little wonder the Bible states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
© Tony Higton: see conditions for reproduction