If God were the kind of person his enemies have made Him out to be; arbitrary, vengeful and severe; there could be no real freedom, and our worship and obedience would be driven by our fears. Sadly, millions have been turned away from God by Satan’s perversion of the truth. But Jesus came to bring the truth about God that sets us free, truth that makes it possible for mere mortals to be His friends.
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. God not only prefers it that way, He knows that if our love and trust are not freely given, there would be no genuine freedom in His family. And God would rather die (on the cross) than preside over a universe that is not free.
Besides, God also knows that the obedience that springs from fear will actually turn His children into rebels. As we have seen (Chapter Eight), He has demonstrated this truth at great cost on the cross. Rebelliousness is the very essence of sin. God sent His Son to do away with sin (Rom 8:3). But in order to do away with rebelliousness and distrust, He must first do away with fear. 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. God went to the cross in Christ 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. Surely such a God is worthy of our love, our reverence, our worship, and our willingness to listen and obey.