"Don't be afraid," Jesus was saying. (We looked at this in yesterday's post. You can see it here.) Even if someone threatens to kill you, even if they do kill you, I've got this, He told his disciples. Being killed is not the worst thing that could happen. Going to hell is the worst thing. Everything else pales in comparison.
I don't have to be afraid, and neither do you. There is only one thing we should fear, Jesus told His disciples. Fear God, who has the final say about our eternal destiny. He is omnipotent and He makes the rules about who spends eternity with Him and who does not.
The word translated as fear is phobos and indicates a reverential fear. According to Vine's, this is "not a mere 'fear' of His power and righteous retribution, but a wholesome dread of displeasing Him." This kind of fear, it says, should "inspire a constant carefulness" in the way we act, both toward God and toward our fellow man.
We serve a God of grace and love and mercy, all of which He offers willingly to us. We can have His grace, love, and mercy in abundance. BUT. We will have them on His terms.
As parents, we make rules for our family and expect them to be followed. When rules are broken, there are consequences. The point of rules is not to be mean. The rules serve to create order, ensure safety, respect authority, and make an environment conducive to the expression of love and joy. The rules, when followed, bring peace.
The One who is Creator and Sustainer of the Universe has also made rules for those of us who live here. He expects us to follow them. The point is not to be mean. Like the rules in my home, they are designed to create order, ensure safety, respect authority, and make an environment conducive to love and joy. The rules make a peaceful place to live.
The issue of eternity is pretty simple. We can choose heaven or we can choose hell. If we choose hell, we can do anything we want. It won't matter what we do; there will always be a place waiting for us in hell. If we choose heaven, that choice comes with a caveat. Choosing heaven means choosing God. It means we try to do things His way.
Love as He loved.
Give as He gave.
Serve as He served.
There is one thing for certain. We will choose. Whether we intend to or not, we will make a choice about our eternal destiny by the life we live and the One we serve (or don't serve). What kind of choice are you making with your life?
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. (Psalms 103:10-11 NASB)