Fear of the Sinful


In Out of the Silent Planet, Lewis talks a lot about fear and how fearful we earthlings are. We are terrified of aliens because we assume they would be the worst of us. They would come to take power and control. They would kill us mercilessly, or enslave us to do their work. This is exactly what we would do (and have done in the past). Lewis's point, I think, is that we really fear ourselves, that we project our own brokenness and sinfulness on God and those around us. So now I'm wondering, how many of my reactions are out of fear because I know what evil I could do?


I'm usually terrified while Jeremy is driving because I most definitely would get a ticket if I ever broke the law (it's happened).

That's just one example, but let's go a little deeper:

I hate losing control of myself, and so when my kids scream like they are dying because they've been shot by a nerf gun, I over-react and then get mad because they lost control of themselves.

How many of my reactions to the kids are based on the fears I hold that they are trying to manipulate or control me? Because I know very well how to do those things.

Or, an even worse picture of my own sinfulness, how many times have I gotten mad at the kids because they weren't living up to my image of perfection? I fear imperfection. Why?

I'm not saying the kids aren't broken humans too who make mistakes (and sometimes even on purpose), but you know, Christ didn't fear others' brokenness. The really broken ones were the ones He really loved on. He didn't put up very much with the ones who were blatantly self-righteous.

There is a very real fear of the Lord, that we are supposed to have, that acknowledges who He is as the Glorious God. This is one of the shortcomings of English because we must use the same word for two very different fears. One of these fears makes us the center of all things and one makes God the center. Today I'm talking about the fear that makes us the center, not the virtuous fear of the Lord.

Some of my fears are projections of myself on the people and situations around me. I fear the little people who might be the incarnation of the evil that I have inside. I fear the big people around me because I know what I am capable of doing. Freedom from those fears would help take me out of the equation. Which would honestly help many a situation. My children's sins are not a personal assault. My husband's absentmindedness or differences are not necessarily the same as my own (because my own might be on purpose). Projecting myself on those around me is using myself as the measure of all things. And I am not the measure. (He is!)

The Bible says over and over (and over again) "Do NOT be afraid!" Because we are afraid of just about everything. But mostly I think we fear ourselves. How are we projecting our own sinfulness on God the Creator? How are we making ourselves the center of our universe and the measure against which everyone must be judged?

Isn't it telling that we should fear the Lord but instead we fear ourselves? He is the Measure, He is the Judge, and He is the one we will stand before in fear and awe one day. When we stand before Him, we will know that He knows all, that we aren't worthy, but that He loves us still. Which makes me think of this passage in Till We Have Faces:

A monster - the Shadowbrute that I and all Glome had imaged - would have subdued me less than the beauty this face wore. And I think anger (what men call anger) would have been more supportable than the passionless and measureless rejection with which it looked upon me... He rejected, denied, answered, and (worst of all) he knew all I had thought, done, or been. -Lewis

This fear is good for telling us what areas we need to let God sanctify, but maybe it's not so good at anything else. May we instead learn to take ourselves out, to stop fearing what we can be, and learn to fear the One to Whom all will bow.

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

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