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I’ve thought about this before, and a recent conversation with friends sparked me to talk about it.

In many Christian circles we talk about “the fear of the Lord,” and “the fear of God,” and explain it by saying fear means reverence. Certainly that’s part of it, but sometimes we forget that we should be afraid of God. Of course we shouldn’t be afraid in a bad way, as one who is afraid of an abuser. We should be afraid in a way that we recognize and are in complete and utter awe of God’s power and presence.

In many Bible verses where we read about fearing God, both Old and New Testaments, the word translated “fear” actually means fear. (To name a few: Psalm 33:8, Proverbs 1:7, Luke 1:50) It brings with it a sense of reverence, yes, but the word implies that this reverence accompanies and may even come out of great dread.

We need to realize that God is not a safe God. He is good, yes, but He is the most dangerous being you can ever imagine, and then some. He spoke the universe into existence, and can snuff it out the same way whenever He wants. With a mere thought and in less than a blink, God can do whatever He wants to any person, group, or place. On top of that, God is so utterly good and holy that we can’t even understand or fathom that! God is so other from us that if He revealed Himself to us in our physical perceptions, we wouldn’t be able to handle it and we’d die.

God is awesome, in the biggest, most significant, most powerful sense of the word. Christian or not, you should be aware of just how powerful and terrifyingly good God is, and what that will mean when He finally must unleash punishment for all the sin in the world. When you think about it, God’s terrifying nature makes it all the more wonderful that He loves us! God restrains Himself to allow us the chance to avoid the wrath that He must one day unleash on sin.