We often are not invited to know God and understand how much He loves us; we are taught to fear Him and be scared of eternal damnation. Can a true friendship develop under such a grave threat? Real intimacy and love does not result from fear and obligatory love. Love without true freedom is neither authentic nor desired. God’s love, not His fear, is what can transform us into the kind of person we truly want to be. Fear of the right things can keep you out of trouble, but fear of punishment doesn’t prevent us from finding a better way to hide it next time.
We need to put fear in its proper place. Fearing God is not necessary in a perfect world. A survey of the times “fear of God” is used in the Bible suggests fearing God was synonymous with fearing evil. To not fear God was to not fear evil. God’s wrath is against godlessness and wickedness in hopes to restore, not against those who don’t pursue evil. God hates the sin, not the sinner. God’s wrath is not an inherent part of His nature but a reaction because of His love when confronted with sin. God exposes us in order to defeat evil in us.
God’s love must be center stage, not his wrath. If God is angry, it is because He cares and is not indifferent to ways that will lead to our destruction. God judges our sin but wants to have mercy (Rm. 11:3). God does not want us to fear Him to keep his distance from us. The Bible also says do not fear God. Genesis 15:1 tells Abraham to not fear God (i.e. Judges 6:23; Isaiah 44:2). I John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears in not made perfect in love.” God’s wrath and punishment is a part of God’s love in hopes to save us from ourselves. God is not obsessed with the guilt of our sins but restoration of the relationship. God is Love not Wrath (I John 4:8). Jesus died not to change God’s attitude but our attitude toward God. God does not need to be reconciled to us; we need to be reconciled to God.