2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2
Moses came down from Mount Sinai.
As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.
When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him.
- Exodus 34:29-30
I am not a fan of scary movies, nor of scary religious people.
Sometimes when I hear a preacher ranting, I guess that the audience includes a lot of the kind of people who like that frightened feeling some people get from a horror flick. They may want a preacher to scare them-
in a religious way.
In Exodus 34, the Hebrew verb which we now understand to mean “shone” is very similar to the word for “grew horns.” People who read a popular Latin translation of the Bible were led to think that Moses grew horns on his head after his encounters on the mountain with God— so, paintings and statues of Moses depicted him having horns.
In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Paul says to faithful followers of Jesus Christ, “you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. … Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3, verses 3 and 17)
Looking around at the diverse ways that folks practice Christian faith in our world, I see some groups achieving success with scare tactics. I am thankful that we live in such a free nation, in which everyone may choose to practice their faith, or lack of faith, in virtually any way they choose (short of harming others). If you have a taste for scary Christianity, there are plenty of places where you can find it… and who am I to tell you that you shouldn’t like it ?
As I understand God’s call on my life, it flows out of this kind of teaching, as found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” With this in mind, I would not want to use the fact that “the Lord is near” to scare people, as preachers sometimes do.
Similarly, from Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 8: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.”
And from 1 John 4: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”
I am sure that if I had one-on-one meetings with God like Moses had, I would come away looking scared— and scary ! I can only imagine.
[S]aid Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
- C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
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