Do you suffer from Venusrtaphobia? Many men do. How about Scolionophobia? A lot of teenagers are infected with this, at least during the week. One website claims there are 530 phobias. Another said that since a fear of anything can be a phobia, the list could be endless.
Even if you don’t suffer from a fear of beautiful women or are not infected with a fear of school, fear is a huge factor in our daily lives. The news media use fear to boost ratings, politicians use fear to get votes, movies use fear to sell tickets, and we mere mortals fill our daily lexicons with some form of the word fear. I’m afraid it’s true.
The Bible uses the word fear hundreds of times as well. But seldom in the same way we do. Join me in today’s reading and see what I mean.
Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Ruth 2-4:22: The Book of Ruth is a testimony to how God’s laws work in real life. God has commanded his people to leave some of each harvest for the poor. Those in need then come and “glean” or harvest what is left, paying only with their labor. I appreciate how God therefore provides but leaves Ruth’s (our) dignity attached. Then Ruth and Boaz begin a relationship based on God’s commands for a “family redeemer.” A widow could marry back into the family and again be provided for. The big picture here is that God can “redeem” anyone and anything.
Proverbs 14:26-27: There are several different biblical words that translate into our one English word “fear.” The usage here means respect or awe. The sense is not an “Oh my God, I’m gonna die,” but rather a response of respectful wonder as with a great work of art or meeting someone you really admire. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, one could tremble in fear of falling and being broken into a million pieces. Or one could stand on the edge and tremble in fear of the bigness and beauty of God’s creation. With the first form of fear we lose perspective, with the second we gain it. Fear of God is gaining the perspective that God is bigger than our troubles and we can live then in faith.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Today’s readings feature two fearless people.
Ruth faces widowhood, living in a new country, and potential poverty boldly. She simply rises with the new day and goes out to “glean” what God has for her. In so doing, like wading into a rushing river, she fearlessly steps into God’s plan for her and history.
In the New Testament John records how a “royal official” comes to Jesus seeking the healing of his son. Obviously one does not go to such lengths over a common cold. The stakes are high. Fear would be a natural emotion here. Yet this man confidently asks Jesus for what he needs. In return for his boldness his son is healed.
I too have lost loved ones, moved to foreign places, and worried over desperately ill children. Currently I am, with Mike, planting the Neighborhood Church, which sometimes feels like living on a paper plate. It seems that at any time the whole thing could crumble. Fear bubbles close to the surface far too often. In these times I become passive and hide in the shadows of my worries. I let the river of God roll by with my eyes and heart half closed to God’s roaring power.
Yet today’s readings show us that it’s possible to exchange fear with faith. Or more literally to replace fearfulness with a fear of God. This fear of God is not a phobia but rather awe, respect, and honor. It is–in any situation–humbly bowing down before a loving, powerful God who is in control of all things. That is why God tells us hundreds of times in Scripture, “Fear not!” Today I think I’m going to join Ruth and the “royal official” and do just that.
- If you had a phobia what would it be?
- What other links do you see between these four readings?
- Has there been a time when God overcame your fear?
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