Housewife Theologian

The Gospel Interrupting the Ordinary

Reading Reflection:

Written By: Aimee Byrd - Apr• 25•12

The Two Fears, Chris Poblete (CruciformPress, 2012)

In this book, Chris Poblete sets out to recover the proper fear of God, pushing back against the “God is my homeboy” crassness of our day and the mild, pushover God that understands we are doing our best. Something he says about a quarter of the way through this small book really resonated with me:

The very otherness of God, the true God-ness of God, means that he is completely separate from all that is not God. There is an infinite qualitative difference between him and us. “There is none besides you,” declared Samuel (1 Samuel 2:2). There is no higher reality or virtue to which God must conform. There is no higher standard, or scale, by which he must be measured. He is not holy because he keeps the Law; the Law is holy because it reveals God. God is the only absolute. Everything else derives from him (25).

This paragraph led me to reflect on our motives in glorifying God. So often we can get caught up in a legalistic approach to measure our own position before God. We want something attainable so we make “guidelines” that then turn into marks of a mature Christian. It may be what type of music we listen to, what fashions we follow, how we vote, what businesses we patronize, how we school our children, or even what sports teams we allow them to participate in. But in effect we have cheapened our God and our faith by setting man-made standards as a gauge of our spirituality. Out of fear of man and fear of our own reputations we fool ourselves into our own moral righteousness. Although we may appear to be more virtuous Christians than our “weaker brothers and sisters,” we have actually weakened our own faith by reducing it to something we can manage. Jesus turned water into wine, but we want to turn the wine into grape juice.

Take modesty for example. There is no skirt-length that makes me into a modest person. Not wanting to lead a brother into sin doesn’t even define my modesty. It is still a horizontal, comparative measurement. Understanding that I am created in the image of God, and wanting to properly reflect that image is the beginning of my modesty. Wanting to glorify God and enjoy him with every part of my being is the proper motivation for modesty. Knowing that I am a sinner who has been redeemed by his beloved son renews the way that I think about what modesty “looks like.” The outward appearance, how I dress, reflects the story of a sinner who needs to be covered with the beauty of Christ’s righteousness.

I love Poblete’s line that God is not holy because he keeps the law. The law didn’t exist before God. The law reveals God. It points us to holiness. Without Christ, the law condemned me. I could not fulfill it, and it could not save me. I was utterly lost. But in Christ, I am made holy. In faith, I depend upon the power of his Holy Spirit to lead me into right living as I am in his Word. Biblical decision making is difficult, and I surely want to walk in obedience. Thankfully God, the highest standard, the wholly “Other,”  has bridged the immeasurable gap between us with his very Son Jesus Christ. When I think of how God condescended in humiliation for the salvation of his people, I am humbled myself. Poblete teaches that “to fear something is to give credence to its power over you.”  This is very helpful. My God is omnipotent! And, the author adds, “if you fear God, your heart will quake at the smallest glimpse of his majesty.”

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10 Comments

  1. Gloria says:

    “Take modesty for example. There is no skirt-length that makes me into a modest person. Not wanting to lead a brother into sin doesn’t even define my modesty. It is still a horizontal, comparative measurement. Understanding that I am created in the image of God, and wanting to properly reflect that image is the beginning of my modesty.”

    Aimee, this is exactly how I want to talk with my neighbors here in the Middle East about my modesty. Thank you for giving me words!!

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Oh good! I think we often focus on the “don’ts” and “shoulds” and miss out on the whole meaning and opportunity to glorify the gospel message. Although, we then have to be in the uncomfortable zone of letting each person work the implications out while leaning on God’s Spirit and Word.

    • Alan says:

      Modesty does not begin with the physical, but from within. Hypocrites can pretend to modesty, and so often do. When there is a respect for God, and respect for self, then both should naturally be seen in the life. A good tree produces good fruit, fruit of fidelity, of modesty, of honesty, etc. What hypocrites tend to do is to get a bad tree and seek to make it good by trying to transform the outward appearance, which is false modesty. Here is the dividing line that so many fail to see.

      The hypocrite in religion, and their false modesty, feigned piety, are worse than that which we encounter in the world, for at least when we encounter those who have old fashioned values, that naturally wish not to have anything to do with God, they are being true to what they are. In many families their is a deep seated root of what is right and what is wrong, and a respect for to do what is right for the sake of doing right, not wishing to offend conscience. With a hypocrite it is worse because they do it out of a principle of deception, to deceive others into thinking themselves to be something, having first deceived themselves.

  2. Tim says:

    Nice review, and good insights Aimee. You got me thinking about what it means to fear God.

    Often the fear of God is defined as a healthy reverence for him. I think that’s only part of it. When the Bible says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, I think it means what it says. (Proverbs 9:10.) Those without God should be in great fear of the consequences. (Hebrews 11:6.) Those of us who know that this fear is legitimate are beginning in wisdom, and it is by faith and grace that we are able to do even that. (Ephesians 2:8.) Of course, with faith comes reconciliation with God who is at that point also our loving Father in heaven, so we no longer need live in fear of the consequences of being without him. (Romans 8:1.)

    Is this all a bit circular? I think it holds up scripturally.

    Tim

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Yes, the author does a great job discussing all this in The Two Fears. He breaks down the proper fear of God and what we do not need to fear as Christians. Good read.

      • Alan says:

        Fillial fear is healthy fear. Those born of the Spirit of God have a healthy reverence for God, which brings with it wisdom and understanding, as in Solomon, and the reason why our wisdom and understanding surpasses that of the world, is of a higher plain, and that when fed into the world enlightens the dark cavities of it, as light shining in dark places. When Christendom seeks to follow the world it not only becomes like the world but begins to lose the light of right understanding, sloth, lethargy takes over, a little folding of the hands to sleep (Matt.25.5), which is generally evidenced in the way ministers speak, very shallow, most conforming to given patterns of what is commonly accepted, not capable of going out of the bounds that they themselves set, so nothing knew coming forth from them, which in turn leads to an abandonment of pulpit ministry, thousands left with no desire to attend upon ministries, anticipation of hearing something new and theologically sound, gone.

  3. Dana Tuttle says:

    This is exactly what I was trying to communicate today about the cross, as a symbol, that I think becomes worshiped as opposed to the very God who hung on it! “We have cheapened our God and our faith by setting man made standards…” and symbols! Thanks Aimee!

  4. Andrea Massop says:

    Aimee! I am a (Canadian) mother of two young boys and have a deep, consuming passion for theology. I have been reading everything you write on this wonderful blog for a number of months and I wanted to communicate to you how much you have inspired me and how much I appreciate each and every word that God brings forth from you. Keep up the faith and the fight Sister, He is using you powerfully.

    • Aimee Byrd says:

      Andrea, thank you so much! That is very encouraging. I just love to hear from women who have a passion for theology.

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