Fear does not govern the Christian life. But we have a skewed view of the Christian life if we exclude fear.
God is loving. God is patient. God is kind. But is God also severe? Can we say that? Any perceptive Bible reader who believes in God’s absolute sovereignty is eventually going to ask this question, like a listener named Tyneeka.
“Hi, Pastor John. I’m wondering if it’s wrong to say that God is severe. Recently in prayer, in a train of thought, I was led to use that exact word — ‘severe’ — although it seemed to me to be sacrilegious. After looking it up in the dictionary, it appeared to me that some definitions of the word ‘severe’ are negative.
“In the prayer, I was thinking about God’s character, that he is loving, kind, patient — and I added ‘severe’ to the list. Like I said, it didn’t sound right. I wondered if ‘serious’ or ‘sober’ are better words. A few examples of ‘severe’ that I found in the dictionary would be ‘harsh,’ ‘unnecessarily extreme,’ ‘grave.’ I’d love your thoughts on this. Is God severe?”