He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.). Jonah 1:9-10 (NIV).
Why would Jonah telling his shipmates that God was God terrify them? The men on the ship found themselves in a storm that threatened to sink their ship. If this huge God Jonah talked about could create a storm to stop or punish him, what could He do to them? To paraphrase Luke, they were “sore afraid.” They were terrified.
Are you now or have you ever been terrified of God?
Studies show that most people fall away from church (or outright reject it) because we who are the church come across as un-authentic. We are hypocrites; we’re unkind; we say or do things contrary to what they believe Christians should say or do. Friend, one unkind contrary hypocrite to another, let’s own this and admit they have a good point. Let’s pray to our Lord today that He forgives & helps us truly change.
Yet I also wonder how many of those people are actually terrified of God yet can’t admit it. How many people are like Jonah, running from something they don’t want to do? Or who don’t want to admit that God is God and they aren’t. I wonder how many people today live in fear of God. Not the awesome knowledge of His majesty, power, and just love, but actual dread of Him.
Nearly every Muslim does. I’d venture to say a large chunk of American Christians do. Peel back the stinky onion of atheism and you’ll find most self-professed atheists are terrified of admitting God is so powerful. Even more than that, many people are terrified to think that God is both loving and just. That He would hold them accountable.
Yet they don’t look deeper than that to find the God David knew, or Daniel, or Noah, Moses, or the prophets. They don’t look to know Jesus, who was God and man at once. Jesus, who showed love, patience, and understanding in everything He taught. Damaged people may be truly terrified of Jesus because embracing Him means letting down their guard, being vulnerable.
That’s the most terrifying thing of all, especially when you’ve been hurt. Truth is, we’re all damaged in some way; we all hurt. Yet the God of Jonah loves us anyway. Jesus loves us anyway, especially when we’re terrified.
For further reading: Jonah 1:11
Lord God, sometimes I doubt and sometimes I’m afraid of Your judging me for what I deserve. Forgive my sins. Only You can do that. Then ease my heart.