How Great Is Our God
“How Great is our God!”: a song some of us may be familiar with singing, but how much as Christians do we really consider God’s greatness? How often are we awestruck by the transcendent glory of God? Do we really know what it means to fear the Lord? What difference would it make if we actually did?
These were the questions we considered at the London Women's Convention back in October. It was a joy for a group of us from Inspire to join together with women from across the country to hear from God’s Word, to sing and to pray together. The half-day conference included two main talks and interviews exploring the greatness of God during good times and tough times, as well as performances of spoken word and songs composed on this theme. Jen Wilkin, the main speaker, travelled from the U.S to help us lift our eyes to the awesome greatness of God.
One of the problems with our churches and our culture, Wilkin suggested, was that we read the Bible as a book about ourselves, rather than God. We want God as our Father but not ‘in heaven’. We want to be passionately in love with God but not to fear him. The consequences of this are that we have become more and more materialistic and individualistic, forgetting that there is something and someone far greater than ourselves. We must remember the God of Exodus 19 who thunders from the mountain.
Perhaps the most challenging and helpful thing for me was the idea of reordering our fears. Psalm 111:10 tells us that ‘the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom’ (NIV), and therefore if our fear of anything else supersedes that, it is the beginning of folly, and leads to sin. If I fear others’ opinions more than I fear God, I will conform to culture rather than living for God. If my greatest fear is losing safety, I will seek comfort and security rather than trusting in and taking risks for God. If I fear losing my looks and my figure, I will become obsessed with diet, exercise and various health products, rather than looking to the inner beauty of a godly character.
Wilkin helpfully highlighted examples of women in the Bible who feared the Lord. For instance, when instructed by the Egyptians to kill every male Hebrew baby, the Hebrew midwives feared God more than the Egyptians and saved many Hebrew children. Rahab feared God more than the fear of Jericho, so gave the Hebrew spies a hiding place. Esther feared God more than her husband the king and was instrumental in rescuing the Jewish community from genocide. Mary, Jesus’ Mother, feared God more than the disapproval of those in her community and so bore the God-child who would save people from their sins.
When we fear God more than those around us we are moved to serve God even at personal cost to ourselves and we are emboldened to share the Gospel. In response to being forbidden to speak the name of Jesus, Peter and John replied: “Which is right in God's eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20 NIV)
Living for Christ in London, there are things we could fear all around us: the disapproval of our friends, singleness, financial insecurity, creeping secularism, cultural taboos, my boss at work. All of these, if they hold sway, will silence our witness and hinder our walk. My challenge to myself and to you is to fear the Lord above all else and then be emboldened to live and speak for him taking risks even when it means personal cost.
(Jen Wilkin has a book out called ‘None Like Him’ which explores 10 ways God is different from us and how wonderful that is. The next London Women’s Convention will be on 13th October 2018 - why not put it in your diary now?)