Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Respect or Fear?

Fight, fight were the words everyone was yelling. I hurriedly rushed to the center of the crowd of students. It was I who was to do combat. I was a skinny little kid, my opponent was older and bigger. I was terrified! We both jockeyed for position and then wham it hit me. A direct punch to my head, rather than thinking that hurt, my first thoughts were. "Mark hits a lot harder than you do". It was at that moment I knew I would punish my foe. I made him pay for my pain and suffering that had been doled out to me for years. The crowd took notice. For weeks afterwards I was congratulated and revered for my punching prowess. It was at that moment that my delusion began, I now thought I was Respected but little did I know that it was only Fear. Fear that I may do that to one of them. It took me years to realize the error of my thinking, but in that time I hurt many an opponent not realizing the one I hurt the most was myself. I am healthier now than ever before, but every once in a while I want people to respect me and the old me creeps back into my thoughts. Thank God I have matured ;)

I have been thinking lately about the religious Gods that most of us pray to. Do we Respect them because of their Loving aspects or is it actually because we fear the repercussions if we dont. It seems to me the concept of Jesus was that he layed his life down for us, as any Loving parent would. I understand that sacrifice as I would do anything for my daughter. In fact if need be I could sacrifice my life for her. The thing is the concept that Jesus illustrates seems to have been perverted. There was a time Im sure when people saw the idea and new it was about Love, but now it seems most have learned to attribute fear to it. Fear that you will not be included unless you do as God says. Fear that you will be punished if you dont do the right thing, believe the right thought. I understand those fears. I understand completely from both sides, they are not born of Respect.

Tell me, do you Respect your God or Fear it?


societyvs said...

"Tell me, do you Respect your God or Fear it?" (John)

In the beginning, it was a type of fear - more or less that drove me towards God...that lasted for a few months - then I broke under that burden.

After that I desired only to follow this 'God is Love' mentality and seek this piece of God. That was about 14 years ago - and I have not looked back one iota.

True love casts out the greatest fears. I have found that my faith challenges me on this basis all the time - to not live my life based on fears (or worse - hurt/trauma).

I have found in 15 years of faith - either God is loving or there is no such thing as God. I cannot practically explain the way faith in God has shaped me - but all changes lead to a path of a 'good God'. Where no love existed - love now does. Where anger once was a motivator - it is exchanged for hope. Where pain was a driving force in my direction - it has been healed.

I got to know a loving God - it's the one reason I do not cast off my faith - even when the church and many have let me down - God really hasn't.

Redlefty said...

Respect and love all the way here.

If fear is to be a component, any component of a healthy faith, and if I am truly at risk of the fires of hell for eternity, then that is what must consume me. How can positive motivations outweigh the prospect of eons of pain?

Great post! You totally stole, in advance, an idea I head for an upcoming blog but I forgive you. :)

Tit for Tat said...

You totally stole, in advance, an idea I head for an upcoming blog but I forgive you. :)

Put em up.......oops, I accept your offer of grace. ;)

Luke said...

wonderful post, esp. in light of the conversation emerging over on my blog.

a god of fear is much easier to follow than the God of love. the fear god has power we can understand, destruction, judgement, wrath, and jealousy at your worshipping other gods... however a God of love, loves, unconditionally. that's something I can't understand nor can the whole of humanity up until this point, but like your story, we get glimpses of what that love is and means. sometimes, every once and awhile, we feel the full force of it and all that love almost shatters our hearts.

the God of love model is so counter to the power we're used to! and i add that love based on fear is no love at all.

geo said...

Does it have to be either or?
And is true respect ever born out of fear?


Mark said...

Good post. Respect is from love while fear is from love's evil twin, deference.

Will said...

Respect. Total respect.

"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings." A. Einstein

I am in awe of this universe and how it works. The hydrological cycle, solar system, black holes, atomic bonds, ecological systems, etc... Everything is fascinating with or without human intervention.

I am in G-d/Nature and G-d/Nature is me. One of my favorite books is David Suzuki's The Sacred Balance. Very good mix of science and spirituality.

Tit for Tat said...


Thanks for the Eistein quote. I like it.

Yael said...

Neither. I find God fascinating but I won't call what I feel about all the God stuff either respect or fear.

I do think, however, that God might just respect and fear me!

Tit for Tat said...

I find God fascinating but I won't call what I feel about all the God stuff either respect or fear(Yael)

I would agree wholeheartedly, my take on a creator is much more curiousity and wonder. Respect and fear make it too Human like. And any energy that created this has to be more dynamic than us lol.

The First Domino said...

God surely wouldn't want us to fear Him, that would guarantee no one would approach Him, except with great trepidation.

God wants us close, closer than hands and feet, and closer than the air we breathe.

God wants Friends and Friendship. A Friendship with God breaks down the barriers that fear, and reverence would create.

God is not more holier than thou. He is thou, and you are Him.

When we come to realize that we're not separate from God, and God is not separate from us, we will come to understand another grand truth--we're not separate from anything.

Finally we will know: We're One with the All, and the All is One with us.

freestyleroadtrip said...

Great post. I followed God out of fear for 38 years. I have abandoned that in that last 2 years and now follow that path of which many speak of grace and love which I believe Christ fully manifested. This has led me to challenge my long held beliefs on hell and evangelism and why Christ actually did die on the cross. I like what I read recently in a book. The author was discussing a Holy Saturday experience. A true follower of Christ because of his manifestation of grace and love would commit to him on Holy Saturday even without knowing of a resurrection. Following God out of fear is mostly an act of selfishness, getting something or not getting something as the motivation. Following Christ even on Holy Saturday is selfless. That is the type of God follower I am trying to be.

Jim said...

For me, it not about whether you respect or fear God, but whether you "know" Him. Jesus, in the garden, prayed that this, in itself, was "eternal life"; and I am of the opinion that if we know Him, the other two come as part of the relationship...

societyvs said...

I have some more opinions on this.

A healthy dose of fear is very noraml and needed for basic living. It actually may bring out the best in us - in all scenarios.

Fear can help 'amp' us up for a great challenge. I am about to write a test - I start getting nervous about failing and what not - what happens? I wrote that test, even with those pre-conditions of some fear, and it pushes me to excel while I am writing the test. Same thing can be said for MMA fighters and boxers (or sports in general).

Fear also helps us to keep away from things that will hurt us. The stove is hot and as a child you touch it - burn yourself and you cry like a baby. Your older now - but you recognie the pain involved with fire - so you always play cautionary with it...pain is one reason - but fear is part of that equation.

I do not fear is unhealthy in general - we just need to find a balance for it in our lives. The way churches use fear is unhealthy - if it becomes the focus of all of one's faith decisions. We should not make decisions on life based soloely on fear - but based in many factors (fear may be one of them in some cases).

I guess I can respect the process/role of fear in one's life. I try to dis-associate it with my faith - but even that is impossible.

For example, I love my wife (married 4 years - been together going on 9 years). My faith teaches 'you should not committ adultery'. I see a girl that I really think is hot one day - and she really digs me - I think this is awesome! One of the factors that stops me from making a 'grave mistake' is fear - fear of losing all I have with my wife - what we have built in 9 years - all our time and effort. There is some fear involved in that.

Fear is healthy - but it is also unhealthy - we need to determine that balance.

Howard said...

Re: Einstein quote.

He certainly understood, like ex atheist philosopher Anthony Flew that there was design behind our universe, and that our present understanding was akin to beginning to read from the first volume of a vast library of knowledge, but there's something more.

In an Interview with the Evening Post in October, 1929, Einstein noted how the Jesus of the Gospels was no 'mere myth', but a 'colossal' figure of history.
In a further interview in 1945 with Edward Wells, he spoke of how all the so-called institutes of freedom were silenced by the Nazis - "Only the church stood squarely across their path (i.e. Bonhoeffer & the Confessing Church). I never had any special interest in the church before, but now I feel great affection and admiration, because it alone had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise".

Perhaps it is the understanding of God which inspired such a response - the God who is here - that needs to underpin and inform our approach to faith and truth.

Tit for Tat said...

Fear also helps us to keep away from things that will hurt us. The stove is hot and as a child you touch it - burn yourself and you cry like a baby. Your older now - but you recognie the pain involved with fire - so you always play cautionary with it...pain is one reason - but fear is part of that equation.(Societyvs)

I think "awareness" is a better description here. I dont fear a stove as I am aware of what it does. This is true for anything that I learn about and trust in my learnings. Fear is born of the irrational, awareness is not.


In regards to a creator, if I trust that it is loving at its essence, then I feel no need to fear it.

Tit for Tat said...


Interesting what Einstein said about the church and the Nazis. I just watched a movie called "Constantines sword", it shows a very different portrait. You might want to watch it. Very enlightening.

Howard said...

No need - just read Peter De Rosa's "Vicars of Christ" - it's all in there, but this misses the point that both Einstein and my mailing were referring to. Away from Rome's support of deeds like the concentration camps in Yugoslavia via it Croat office in the Vatican, the smuggling of Nazi's out of Europe at the end of the war, including Klaus Barbie,via it's 'Ratline' routes *which British and American intelligence pretty well ignored so they could recruit from these sources to build a new anti-communist network for the cold war), there was ANOTHER expression of Christianity:

It is that manner of faith that needs to be explored.

Constantine and many others used Christianity as a rouse to keep or gain power (whilst, for example, in his case, continuing to worship Sol Invicta till his death).

Tit for Tat said...


I agree, the problem is, what is the dominant view of the Church? It definately isnt Love and Grace. Even the most loving Christian has to acknowledge that his or her faith still has God accepting some and banishing others, not sure how Love can be reconciled to that.

Howard said...

"Love", at least in the Christian context, has to be defined not by creeds, popes or councils, but by Christ Himself, and that is the definition which should inspire and inform the church.

Christ does this pretty clearly, for example, in His discussion with Nicodemus in the third chapter of John's Gospel, but this also defines the only true criteria of 'banishment' (as I've touched on in reply to the latest topic on the 'Old Adam Lives' blog that you've recently visited).

"Christians" can make all manner of misconstrued charges, initiate all manner of mis placed enterprises in this world - they will be judged by a much more vital and compelling criteria than the pretensions of those who imagined and implemented them. 'Christianity' which seeks to bury or demean the essential nature of the reality Christ declares beneath a veneer of piety, like the mis guided monk in the 'Name of the Rose' is not only worthless, but inherently against true faith.

steve martin said...

I think Howard is right.

The curch is entirely made up of sinners. Faulty persons that operate out of fear as well as love.
You have a great paradox in the churches. A mixture of saints and sinners will always bring about a mixed bag.

But Jesus Christ is still there, where His Word is preached and His sacraments administered, and people who believe it.

His love and forgiveness overcome our lack of it.
He calls us (by His grace),gathers us together, enlightens us, and sanctifies us in true faith.

Outside of Christ Jesus, you can still have love, and acts of kindness...but you cannot have the Church.


Tit for Tat said...


Thanks for your comment. I have a challenge with your thought pattern though. I take issue with the idea that we are all inherently bad and need saving. I know that this is your Christian viewpoint but at my core it just seems so repugnant. I believe Jesus was trying to show us how to love and be better at community, and he was not trying to show us how "bad" we are. Athletes get better when the majority of their focus is on what they do right not what they do wrong. When the emphasis is that we are sinners how can we not live up to that?

steve martin said...

Tit for Tat,

When you look at human history, it is hard to see that mankind is improving...at all...in the way that we treat each other.

We are still basically driven by the self. We still have fear and we still do not trust God.

The Bible is repleat with descriptions of how 'bad' we are.
Jesus was not only trying to show us how bad we are (sermon on tyhe mount was really the nail in the coffin - with respect to how we ought live and how we are really doing)

Jesus (I believe) was trying to show us that there is no righteousness outside of Himself and that we need to go to Him and no where else, especially ourselves for it.

Can we improve? Should we improve? YES! But we cannot improve with respect to righteousness and when we delude ourselves towards that end, we actuall cut ourselves off (as St. Paul says in Galations) from Jesus and faith.

I agree with you whole heartedly that we ought and shpuld do all we can do to become better. I'm an old athlete...I know the value of hard work and discipline ...but we must always seperate that stuff from how God views us.

Because of Christ and His work on the cross, for us, God is already pleased with us...not because of anything that we do, but because of what Christ has done.

Howard said...

"I take issue with the idea that we are all inherently bad and need saving".

I think that really strikes at the heart of the problem - the horror is that we don't see ourselves as critically impoverished by what we are, but the revelation of Christianity is inherently seeking to declare how key this is - that we are, to paraphrase C S Lewis, playing in the muck and squalor of a ghetto when we were meant for the 'weight' of something much greater. Like the Prodigal in Jesus' story, we can revel in such circumstances only until we come to our senses and realize what we have lost, then we long for home. That realization brings with it an opportunity for faith in the redeeming reach of God through Jesus Christ.

Tit for Tat said...

Howard and Steve

Gentlemen this is my point. I dont see myself as inherently Bad, I see myself as good first. Now do I do bad things, of course, but I do not inform myself by this. The gift God(my definition) gives me is that of choice. If you guys desire to see yourself as shitty first, be my guest. I would gently suggest you dont include me.
I have quoted this saying before, but here goes again.

"The world is 50% shit, 50% sugar, you choose where you put your focus, but just remember if you stand in shit long enough it dries around you."

Unfortunately the bulk of Evangelical Christians that I have met are neck deep.

steve martin said...

"I dont see myself as inherently Bad, I see myself as good first."

Read again the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Publican).

Jesus didn't take too kindly to the guy that thought he was "good".

He much preferred the guy that thought his thoughts, words and deeds were..crappy.

I don't think of myself as "shitty". But I do think of my own thoughts, words, and deeds FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE as not cutting the mustard. The standard is "perfection" (Jesus' own word).

Howard and I are trying to make the distinction between what the world values and what God values.

By the world's standard, I am a pretty decent Joe. I do the best I can, I'm friendly to people, I try and give what I can, when I can, I pay my taxes, I contribute to society and work. That's all well and good and if we were leaving God out of it then I would be just fine. But God has another word. In His realm, there can be nothing less than 'perfection'. Since we are not and never will be able to reach that standard...He sent His Son.

That's all were saying...give Peace a chance (I couldn't resist that last part)

Toby said...

Am I inherently bad? Apparently not, assuming God wasn't totally insane when He ransomed me (us) by way of The Good News, from the hostage crisis I (all of us) were living under at the hand of the father of lies'. We're being debriefed and deprogrammed from the lie and returning back to our true selves. While I'm being deprogrammed, I might look bad to the uninformed... but I'm really perfect IN Christ.

Yael said...

Torah never states that God's requirement is perfection but does tell us that God is merciful.

What I find fascinating is that in Torah people can argue with God, reason with God and God listens and relents. Yet, in the NT, if someone disagrees with Jesus there is no reasoning with him. Instead the person is subjected to lectures, mocking, and name-calling. Yet so many Christians are only to eager to tell me God is too hard to please which is why I need Jesus? I think it's a case of repeating the same story for too long without bothering to check out the assumptions!

Tit for Tat said...


Thanks for your presence.

Howard said...

I think that the assumption is that Torah people are under a covenant which involves keeping the Law of Moses, and Jesus clarifies the genuine requirements of this (see the Sermon on the Mount) which shows just how far off we are from keeping such requirements.
The New Testament concludes that all of us, Jew and Gentile, are far from such a place, hence our need for one who redeems us. That all seems pretty reasonable to me.

Dean said...

This is an interesting topic. One that has me wondering, yet again, why people can't just be good for goodness sake.

Another interesting point of note is how the message of the Old Testament is so different from the New. I have often wondered if they're even talking about the same God. Or perhaps it's an evolution. Like a parent enforcing discipline through the notion that no harm will come to you if you do as I say... which, of course, usually grows into mutual respect and the need to no longer threaten your kids with violence....

Either way, thanks for making me think.

Howard said...

Dean wrote:
"how the message of the Old Testament is so different from the New. I have often wondered if they're even talking about the same God".

It's all about a maturity of relationship. There's a moment in the Exodus from Egypt where God essentially invites the entire company to come up and meet with him, but they are just too afraid for that - they place Moses up as an intermediary - and thus, God is approached in a veiled and often obscured manner, through forms of rite and ritual. Jesus clarifies the matter - you cannot stay masked behind structures that you deem provide your piety - God is looking deeper and will deal with you directly, in relationship. All those recorded as men of faith in the earlier times inherently understood this.

A superb window into all of this is found in some of the best writings of Frank Herbert - Dragon in the Sea, the Jesus Incident, and of course, the essential Dune novels.
They all echo the manner in which ritual. tradition and the like can dislocate us from truly tasting and understanding the essence of what knowing God is really all about.

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