I am not saying in this that the fear of God is wrong, only that it is incomplete. It is the first rung on the ladder to knowing God in his fullness. He said himself it was the beginning of wisdom, but it is only the beginning. Love is the end of it.(Image: by without you. at flickr)
If you don’t love God, you would be well-served to fear him. At least that might keep you from behaviors that will destroy you and others around you. But once you know how much he loves you, you’ll never need to fear him again. In other words, this Father doesn’t just seek your obedience, he desires your affection. He can have your obedience without your love, but he knows where he has your love he will also have your obedience.
“There is no fear in love, because fear has to do with punishment,” John wrote as he tried to convince the church in Ephesus that God’s love had replaced the old order of fear. It was revolutionary then, and regrettably still is today. We seem more comfortable fearing God than we do loving him.
But fear isn’t in God’s nature. He fears nothing. Thus his own holiness is not produced by his fear, but by his love. In fact fear cannot produce the holiness God wants to share with us. It is incapable of doing so. For God to transform us to be like him, he must expel our fear and teach us the wonder of living in his love.
John paints fear and love as polar opposites. Before the coming of Jesus, God used fear to hold our passions in check, but it never made anyone holy. In Christ, God appealed to us on the basis of love. Thus he needs our fear no longer, knowing we will never love that which we fear.
So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17