The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear. Deuteronomy 6:13 NRSV
I find it interesting that this verse actually comes after the Shema - the verse faithful Jews have recited twice daily for thousands of years. The Shema is a prayer from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and says:
Hear O Israel; the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (NRSV).
Many Christians would probably automatically add: "And your neighbor as yourself," which would be jumping ahead to what Jesus said in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
In any case, the Shema speaks of putting God first above all things and loving God with everything one has. There is no fear involved.
When I think about it, I think that it is far easier to fear than to love.
Love requires courage, intentionality, vulnerability, and openness. Fear is a natural response to an outside stimulus. Love is positive but is also something we have to work at as though it is a seldom used muscle. Fear is negative but easier to feel. Love changes the way we see others, God and ourselves. Fear proves that we were right to withhold ourselves from others, God and our true selves.
No wonder God's people were asked to recite the verse on love twice a day - it would take a lifetime of twice daily repetition to let it sink in. With fear, that isn't necessary.
God - I love you. I love you with all that I have: body, soul and strength. Help me to love You more. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims