What Kind of a Worshiper are You? Part 2: Worshiping out of Fear -- By Lyn Chaffart

Easter is just a few days away, and as we begin to contemplate the magnitude of Jesus' gift for us, we are brought to our knees in worship.

But what kind of worship do we bring to Him?

Last Tuesday, in WHAT KIND OF WORSHIPPER ARE YOU, Part 2, we took at the look at the selfishness that so often motivates our worship. Today's lesson will look the second type of worshipper: Those who worship God because they are afraid not to!

Is this a constructive way to worship God?

We have all had authority figures in our lives who we have been just a little afraid of. It might have been a teacher, a boss, a manager, a doctor, a pastor, a scout leader or coach, or, as is so often the case, a parent or a spouse or some other close family member. Take a moment and think back to your relationship with that person. Did you obey them?

More than likely you did, at least up to a certain point.

Why?

Because you were afraid not to.

And when you finally broke free of that person's grasp, you might have demonstrated just a tiny bit of rebellion, at least for a while.

But did you really love that person?

And what of respect? Did you truly respect that person?

You see, when we serve someone out of fear, we miss the mark. We cannot truly love and respect those we are afraid of. And the longer we serve out of fear, the angrier we become, and the more we lean towards rebellion!

So what does this have to do with God?

It is exactly the same thing with our worship.

I grew up believing that God was a God of love, but I was also taught that I had to do certain things to "earn" this love, and if I didn't earn it, there would be eternal consequences. As a result, I was afraid of God. I understood that He saw my every move, and He knew how often I "slipped up"!

Did I go to church?

Yes.

Did I pay my tithe?

You bet!

Did I study my special lesson book prepared by the church I was raised in?

Absolutely.

Yet despite the fact that I did all of those things, I never felt like I matched up.

So I decided it was because I wasn't doing enough. I started actively participating in my church. I became a children's leader, the drama leader, even a church elder! I wrote children's programs and plays, even sermons.

Why?

All for the same motivation: I was afraid not to!

But where was the peace of mind that I craved?

I'm sorry to say it continued to elude me.

So I sent out on a new journey. I began religiously trying to keep the 10 commandments. I put new rules into my life, regulations, guidelines. But no matter how hard I tried, I was only the more and more painfully aware of how far I was from succeeding!

As time went on, I became more and more afraid of God. I realized that I couldn't stop myself from sinning, so how was I going to look good in God's eyes? And as a result, so many times I just wanted to throw in the towel. If none of my efforts brought me peace of mind or assurance, then why try?

But stories of God's disfavor had been so impressed upon my mind that I was afraid to stop trying.

So where did I go wrong?

The answer lay in the motivation behind my worship. I was worshiping God out of fear, and this fear didn't bring me into a relationship with Him. It couldn't! Just like our fear of the authority figure that we have had in our lives never served to build love and respect for that person, worshiping God out of fear will work against the relationship He so desires us to have! It leaves us angry and frustrated, because nothing we ever do to appease that fear is ever good enough!

But God isn't a God of fear: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear. . ." (1 Tim 1:7a). Instead He is a God of power and of love: ". . . But of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Tim 1:7b NKJV). God's first priority is relationship. We were created for relationship, and as long as our motivation for worship is fear, we will never know the true, loving, kind nature of the One who willingly gave His life for our sin.

With Easter just a few days away, I would encourage each of you to examine your motives for worshiping God. Do you do so, even in the tiniest way, out of fear? If you do, then you are denying God the most important thing He died on that cross to accomplish: A personal love relationship with . . . YOU!

But wait a minute: Is fear of God such a bad thing? After all, we are told to "fear God" (1 Peter 2:17)! In fact, the term "Fear God", along with its counterparts, "Fear Him", "fear of the Lord", etc. are found numerous times is the Bible!

Let's find out as our study of true worship continues! Join us on Saturday for the conclusion of WHAT KIND OF A WORSHIPER ARE YOU, Part 4: Worshiping God the RIGHT Way: In Spirit and in Truth.

In His love,

Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.


(To access the entire "What Kind of a Worshiper are You?" mini-series, click here.)