Last year, my son Samuel had a school holiday and so I decided to take leave to bring him out. We went to Sentosa, USS. Now, my family had been to USS many times. We had taken most of the rides. But we haven’t gone for the Battlestar Galactica ride. So I asked my son, “Would you like to go?” He said yes. He barely made the height requirement. So we went. I looked at the shorter queue and we went. I didn’t know they were different. Cylon side. I was so dead. After loop-de-loops, corkscrews, and we were coming back to the start. My knees were shaking. And then Samuel turned to me and said, “Can we go again?” “No!” I immediately replied.
Fears. What do you fear? Roller-coaster rides? Fear of heights? Fear of the dark? Fear of failure (not doing well enough in your examinations)? Fear of loneliness (your classmates or schoolmates rejecting you)? Fear of broken homes/families? Fear of finances (which is very real because in this difficult economic environment, many of your parents may be affected)? Perhaps even fear of terrorism.
Headline news. Gunman goes on rampage in school. Kills dozens of children. This is not some fictitious scenario. It’s becoming a common occurrence, in a First-World country like America, no less. These are dark days we are living in, and there are legitimate reasons why we are afraid.
This morning, from the portion of God’s Word that we are going to read, the Psalmist tells of a reason to fear that many of us do not consider. Let me read to you from Psalm 130:1-4 “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”
What was the Psalmist’s greatest fear? “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” The Psalmist feared that if God were to point out his sins (list them out, names them), he would not be able to stand in God’s presence. He could not be close to God. How many of us are concerned about this? How many of you think to yourselves, do my wrong choice of words, thoughts and actions – towards fellow students, teachers or my parents and siblings – cause my relationship with God to be affected? We should. As I shared with many of you in chapel last week, our sins do affect our walk with God and strain relationships around us.
But the Christian gospel is good news. There is forgiveness of sin. Max Lucado, a popular Christian writer once wrote this, “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. But since our greatest need was forgiveness, God sent us a Savior.” JESUS.
God is love. But God is also holy and righteous and just. He cannot sweep sin under the carpet. He cannot ignore it. He cannot pretend it doesn’t exist. But what God can do is forgive sin. And the way He does it is through the Cross of Jesus Christ. God paid the penalty of our sin (which is separation from God!) so that we do not need to pay for it ourselves. If we place our faith in Jesus, He forgives our sins.
Here’s one last thought: I began by mentioning the Psalmist’s fear of his sins before a holy God. You would think that if God forgives sins, his fear would be taken away. But listen to Psalm 130:4 “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.”
It sounds like a paradox, until we realise there are two different kinds of fears. Fear of punishment vs. fear of hurting God’s heart and harming His name. Christians do not fear punishment for their sins because that’s taken care of. But we do fear our sins hurting God’s heart and harming His name. People may say, “Wah, you’re a Christian, still behave like this ah?” God’s name, His reputation is harmed… you get the idea?
Two responses this morning: One, are your sins forgiven? God offers it freely to all who will receive. Repent, trust in Him. Two, do you live with reverence to God? Does your life reflect your worship of Him? Let us pray.