This blog begins chapter nine of the book in process Conversations About God. It originated as a series of lectures by Graham Maxwell in 1984. After each lecture Maxwell took written questions from the audience mediated through the pastor of the Loma Linda University Church at the time, Lou Venden. This marvelous series has never been put into book form, so I am attempting to do so and sharing the results in progress here with permission from the Maxwell family. I realize today that growing up Seventh-day Adventist, I was rather afraid of God. I wish I had known this then. The words that follow are Maxwell’s oral presentation, edited by me.
This chapter is the ninth of twenty conversations about God; another look at our Heavenly Father in the larger setting of the great controversy over His character and government. This chapter is entitled “There is no Need to be Afraid of God.” I believe that to be afraid of God is to misunderstand, even to deny, the truths that He paid such a price to reveal. Though God is infinite in majesty and power, He values nothing higher than the freedom of His intelligent creatures. He desires that their love, their worship, their trust, their willingness to listen, may be freely given. Not only does God prefer things that way, as any parent would, but He knows that if our love and trust are not freely given, then there is really no freedom in His family. And God would rather die than preside over a universe that is not free.
Besides these considerations, He also knows that the obedience that springs from fear will actually turn His children into rebels. Rebelliousness is the very essence of sin. God sent His Son to do away with sin, you recall, in Romans 8:3. But in order to do away with rebelliousness and distrust, He must first do away with fear. Because it is fear that has turned so many away from God. It is fear that has inspired rebelliousness even in the hearts of those who seek to obey Him, but do not know Him well. And God gave His life to make it eternally clear that there is no need for His children to be afraid of Him. While He is infinite in power, He is also infinitely gracious, so there is no need for us to be afraid. Surely such a God is worthy of our love, our reverence, our worship, and our willingness to listen and obey.