Friday night Karie and I went to the Mainstage Theater here in Anderson to watch the Sound of Music. You're probably familiar with the story of how Maria goes from being nun to become a nanny for seven children.
In one of the scenes, Maria is in her bedroom at night during a thunderstorm and every time the thunder booms, another couple children run down the hall and jump into her bed. Karie and I have that happen with a little two year old and a four year old.
And it's understandable. Even as an adult, I've been in thunderstorms, that were downright frightening when you see all that power.
To many people when you talk about the fear of God, they picture an angry deity in the sky who's waiting to zap us with lightening bolts.
That's the caricature in many people's minds. No wonder America is not that God-fearing nation that we used to be.
To talk about "the fear of God" is politically incorrect. It's psychologically unacceptable.
Last month in USA Today, Oliver Thomas wrote, "I suspect that a deep-seated fear of God lies behind much of the neurosis - if not actual psychosis - that we see in the world today. No person is as sick as a person who is sick on bad religion."
Yet our passage begins with the command to fear God. Look at the end of v. 17 "pass the time of your sojourning here in fear." But our passage ends with the command to hope in God. Look at the end of v. 21, "That your faith and hope might be in God."
Maybe some of you are saying, "Wait, I thought this letter of Peter's was about hope, not fear? We already have plenty to fear. I thought this letter was the answer to our fears. That's the series title, Hope in Trials.
Isn't fear the opposite of what we've been talking about? Aren't fear and hope mutually exclusive? Aren't fear and joy incompatible? How can you have fear and love? Doesn't the Bible say "Perfect loves casts out all fear?" Doesn't it say, "God has not given you a spirit of fear?" Doesn't God say in other places, "Fear thou not for I am with thee?"