In a book I read recently, the authors suggested that the fearful aspects of the physical world, like hurricanes and ferocious animals, teach us that God is scary. I personally thought that was a terribly mistaken way to see God, but I wonder just how many people actually think God is scary. Can we really love a God who is also frightening? Some would say “yes” claiming that they both loved and feared their father, for instance, because he was both a sustainer and a disciplinarian That may be; but the fear they speak of does not compare with the supposed fearfulness of God, which threatens eternal punishment.
Interestingly, a friend recently commented that the opposite of love is not hate as we might think, but rather the opposite is fear. Fear simply causes people to do hateful things. Certainly I can see a tendency in my own life to react fearfully to those who “wrong” me and then to do something hateful in response.
The Bible says that God is Love. Love is by extension the paramount virtue. This is reiterated by the Apostle Paul in his famous discourse in I Corinthians Chapter 13. Without love nothing else matters. The same Bible, in I John 4:18, tells us that perfect love casts out fear, establishing the connection between love and fear. I conclude that fear and love are incompatible. How, therefore, can we both love God and picture him as scary as suggested above? It is impossible. We can claim to love a fearful God, but it is not a true love, because true love cannot be coerced. It must be freely given in response to Love unconditionally extended.