From Fear to Love: Motivations in the Christian Search for God

1556 Words7 Pages
With weary eyes, wretched souls, and wounded hearts, people pray to God for deliverance. Throughout salvation history, in times of suffering, grief, and strife, fear motivates people to seek refuge in God. Simultaneously, love inspires people to remain steadfast in God, trusting that, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” (Julian 80). Both fear and love dynamically shape the Christian search for God. The following essay will, firstly, examine how Israel’s state of fear and oppression in Exodus, in contrast with John’s assurance of love, shapes understandings of God; secondly, explore how fear “pushes” and love “pulls” Augustine closer to God; thirdly, discuss the respective comfort and liberation theologies of Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, and Elizabeth Johnson as remedies for fear and advocations for love; and ultimately show that fear motivates people, pushing them towards God’s sanctuary, and love inspires people, pulling them towards God’s salvation. Fear steals the spotlight in Exodus where suffering besets the Hebrews slaving away as the dregs of life under cruel Pharaoh. Hebrew servitude to the Egyptian Pharaoh eliminates any essence of Israel’s identity. Constant suffering drives the Hebrews to demand deliverance from oppression. From their fear, they cry out to God in anguish. They beg God to save them from affliction and believe the Egyptians should equally suffer to atone for the brutal treatment of Hebrew slaves. Therefore, the Hebrews shade God with wrathful wonder, both powerfully and vengefully, to invigorate the desolate state of Israelite morale. To provide security from fear, the Hebrews anthropomorphize God with a “mighty hand” which will strike Egypt (Exodus 3:... ... middle of paper ... ...d future uncertainties, because love will always remain the guiding force in their lives, God’s divine love that moves the sun and stars. Works Cited Augustine. Confessions. Trans. Henry Chadwick. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print. Coogan, Michael David., Marc Zvi. Brettler, Carol A. Newsom, and Pheme Perkins, eds. The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. Print. Johnson, Elizabeth A. She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse. New York: Crossroad, 2002. Print. Julian. Revelations of Divine Love (Short Text and Long Text). Trans. Elizabeth Spearing. Ed. A. C. Spearing. London: Penguin, 1998. Print. Luther, Martin. "The Large Catechism." Christian Classics Ethereal Library. CCEL, 17 Aug. 2007. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. .
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