Monday, August 15, 2011

COMMON GROUND: Why do/should people fear God?

COMMON GROUND is a column dedicated to encouraging respectful dialogue by posing a monthly question that is open to people from every religious/non-religious/political background.  If you would like to post a response, please email for details.

The question for August is "Why do/should people fear God?"   

"Sean Gaffney, a Christian writer and story administrator for Warner Brothers studios.  He lives in Burbank, CA. and his response to this month's question is below:"

Imagine Fear of the Lord
By:  Sean Gaffney

I suppose there are many benefits for believers in G-d to hold a healthy fear of God – defined as a vigorous, reverent respect and awe for their Creator.  But there would be even more benefits for society in general if such a respectful awe were more widespread, and pervaded more of our every day existence.

I am reminded of one of the most depressing songs in modern history – “Imagine” by John Lennon. Depressing because it is so hopeful in intent, and yet so woeful in tactic.  “Imagine there’s no heaven,” Mr. Lennon asks of us, because a belief that there is nothing greater than us will lead to “all the people living for today.”

Actually, that is incredibly easy to imagine. Just listen to the news. The mom who got rid of her kid because she wanted some freedom, the drug dealer selling in front of the school yard, all those folks on Wall Street that put their own greed ahead of our nation’s economy - every single one of them is living for today.

Ooh, ooh, ooh ooh ooh.

I wonder if we can imagine that there not only is a heaven, but a Creator as well. Now imagine if folks not only believed in such a thing (which is common), but actually had a reverent awe of that being (which is rare).
Ever spill something on the sofa at a friend’s house? If you respect your friend, you would be mortified and awfully sorry. If you don’t respect your friend, who cares? Sling some more salsa around.

Likewise, if you had an oopsie and dumped tons of oil into G-d’s ocean, and you had respect for the guy, you’d be mortified. In fact, you probably would be careful to not dump oil on his furniture, even if it meant lower profits. It’s only the guys without genuine fear of the Lord that do that sort of thing.

You know that scene in those sitcoms where a guy is totally inappropriate to a girl, only to find out that she is the boss’ daughter? Pretty dang funny because everyone knows that treating the boss’ daughter like crap is a show of disrespect to the boss.

Kind of like treating G-d’s kids like crap is a show of disrespect to G-d. If we had honest awe of G-d, we’d be out there Mother Teresa’ing the people created in his image. It would change everything in our behavior from the finger we choose when greeting other drivers on the 405 to how we decide to use (or not use) our guns and missiles.

And all those politicians and shouters that use God as a tool for their own ends, and the preachers that use God as a tool to gain power or bludgeon their flock (or strangers to their flock)?  Well, only tools use someone they respect as a tool. In a God-fearing society, they’d be the first to go.

You may say that I’m a dreamer, but if there were more genuine respect for the creator of our world and of our neighbors, we’d all be a whole lot closer to living as one.


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