Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Fear Is Worship

The expression, "The fear of the Lord" has puzzled theologians and believers for millennia. Fear is almost universally treated as an undesirable characteristic. The Bible seems to reinforce this impression when it commands- "Fear not!" The unvirtuous side of fear is reinforced by social currency when we generally deride those who experience fear as "scaredy cats", "chickens", "yella bellied" or "wimps". The Bible commands us not to fear. Society condemns us if we do. Why then would God choose such a negative and forbidden emotion and command that people express (and experience) it toward Him?


Fear is a form of respect. It is an acknowledgement of the unknown, the unpredictable, the potential for harm. Fear grips our attention. It doesn't merely demand it. Fear can be a surrender to the superior. Whether it's an angry dog or an irrate wife, fear betrays our respect, indicates our attention, and reveals our submission.


Respect, attention, submission. These are symbiotic integers that when added up equal: worship. The Bible doesn't command us not to fear, generally. It commands us not to fear anything other than God. When we are more fearful of something other than God, we are being disrespectful to God. Therefore, when the Scriptures want to instruct us as to how we should worship, the first thing- the "beginning" of worship is: to fear the Lord. He alone is worthy of our ultimate respect, attention and submission.

Last night, I incorporated a children's talk into my Sunday evening sermon. I was dealing with a very delicate topic: Evil, Hell and the Devil. My goal was to contrast these things with God and show how infinitely superior God is to these objects of fear. And this goes right to the heart of our misplaced fears. When we worship a mere facsimile of God, where we have substituted his true identity for some opinion that considers him simply as great rather than the greatest, we are prone to "fear man" (Prov. 29:25), "fear death" (Heb. 2:15), and "fear our enemies" (Deut. 20:3). When we overcome our fears in these areas by accepting the revelation of God's true identity as the All-Sovereign-Almighty-God, we live a life of worship for this God.

Jesus said,"Fear? I'll tell you who to really fear!" (Luke 12:5) And He was referring to His Heavenly Father. The One who He knew as All-Loving, All-Compassionate, and All-Merciful, yet exclusively worthy of fear. In this sense we need to be careful what we fear, because it may be a statement of what we are really worshiping.

Andrew Corbett

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

The Discipline of Art

What is the source of creativity? There can be little doubt that inspiration plays a key component in the production of good art. As a student of art since my teens I have only just recently noticed though, that most of the world's best art was produced more out of persperation than inspiration alone. I recently heard a commissioned poet interviewed who said that his world-acclaimed poetry was very hard to produce. In fact, he would sometimes be up to the early hours of the morning of the day his commission was due, to finish it off. This is despite him having up to 12 months to produce it! The interviewer was a little stunned and said that after thirty years of doing this he would have thought that it would have got easier, not harder.

My literary hero, F.W. Boreham, wrote in his autobiography that he began the habit of daily and weekly reading in order to fill his mind with source for his essays. He would go down to his study each morning at 8AM to write for one hour. He said that sometimes it was easy, but most of the time it was just hard work. He wrote some 58 books, published over 3000 articles and was the weekly editor of the Melbourne Age (Argus) and the Hobart Mercury for 36 years. The public has not seen all that he wrote. Boreham was realistic about what was worthy of public attention and what wasn't. He knew that despite his giftedness with the pen, he still needed to be highly disciplined to produce his art.

The same can be said of painters. Da Vinci drew daily and painted regularly. Yet the world has only ever seen a very small amount of what he produced. Da Vinci's art is described as some of the most inspirational work ever produced, yet he would probably tell us that at the time it took more persperation than inspiration to produce. This is borne out by the Xrays and ultra-sounds of many of his paintings where researchers have discovered the multiple layers of completely different subject matters lying beneath what the world has only ever seen.

One of the earliest pieces of advice I was given as a writer was: "There is no such thing as good writing only good rewriting." For someone committed to writing for the public, this demands disciplined efforts. It also involves the scrutiny and critique of others, which is also an aspect of discipline. I am discovering what the great art masters learned- that good art requires a creativity that is honed by regular discipline to fine tune it. When I think of God and how He created all there is I see the same pattern. He didn't haphazardly create. He created in sequential stages. He created in a way that each stage built on the previous stage. Many believing scientists argue that creation was more an artistic exercise than a clinical one. It seems that God the Master Artisan was extremely disciplined in His creativity. He fine-tuned the world to be ready for the creation of mankind. And it is in the image of this Artist that we are created to be creative. And it seems that this creativity is best drawn out of us by the discipline of deadlines and regular exercise of our creative gifts.

Andrew Corbett