In Chapter 10, “‘Course He Isn’t Safe… But He’s Good,” Hansen addresses the paradox of God being both a just God and a loving God, and how we should equally fear and love God. Truthfully, it is very hard for me to be “afraid” of God. I would much rather picture a kind and loving God. People often say Jesus should be your “best friend”, but I am not afraid of my friends. On the other hand, thinking of someone ruling the whole world, is scary. God not only rules the whole world, but also the whole universe and every little aspect of my life. It’s terrifying to think of someone having that much power.
I was recently reading the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. When most people talk about this story, they emphasize Abraham’s trust, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” (Genesis 22:8). Often people talk of how trusting Abraham was because he knew God would take care of him and fulfill His promises. This time when I read the story, I noticed something that I had not caught before. God tells Abraham, “Do not lay a hand on the boy, do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son,” (Genesis 22:12, emphasis added). I am sure Abraham had a great amount of trust in God, but maybe his fear of God is what drove him, more than his trust.
The explanation for the First Commandment is, “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” In fact the explanations for all Ten Commandments start with, “We should fear and love God…” There are many things I am afraid of, but I would not put God at the top of that list. Luther, though, says that we should fear God above all else. To fear, love, and trust the same thing more than anything else, seems to go against common sense. However, only fearing or only loving God can lead to serious consequences as Hansen describes. We are so blessed to have a God who is equally just and loving, and we should look at Him with equal parts love and fear, no matter how hard or confusing that sounds.