Fear of the Lord gives Christians reason and wisdom to please God, a United Methodist bishop told the denomination’s top legislative body.
In an April 29 sermon, Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo encouraged the 998 delegates attending the United Methodist General Conference to respect God because to do so is a first step toward knowledge and good sense. Ntambo leads the church’s North Katanga Area in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Referring to the actions of David in I Samuel — when David spared his enemy for fear of what the Lord would do to him — Ntambo told the delegates that “fear of the Lord to you and to me is to please God and not God to please us.”
There is no fear of the Lord when infidelity, hatred and hypocrisy are a way of life, the bishop said. Fear is not present when the church has not accomplished its mission toward the people of the world or when it fails to identify sin to its members, he proclaimed.
Throughout the sermon, Ntambo evoked the “fear phrases” used by the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt to illustrate how the church and nations will be judged by God because of their failure to provide sustenance to those who have little or nothing.
“When the church or the nations fail to identify and meet the need of the hungry people and the disinherited, and when the nations have the means to finish poverty and hunger, but do not act accordingly, there is not fear of the Lord.”
In addition to fearing and revering God, the Lord also requires the church and Christians to say “no” to sin, he said. “It is the duty of the church to say no to oppression, racism, injustice and so forth.”
Although many techniques and technologies are available in the 21st century to win people to Christ, there is no fear of the Lord to make it happen, he noted.
A lack of resources is prohibiting missionaries from doing the work of the Lord, and the membership of local congregations is decreasing, but no effort is being made to bring the people back, he added.
“This is not the fear of the Lord,” he said. “Of course, God is love, grace, compassion and forgiveness, but God is also a judge, and the judgment is ahead of us for you and me.”
Ntambo ended his message by calling the United Methodist Church “to engage day and night in the prospective of the fear of the Lord. The day we will meet the Lord, we will be given the crown of victory.”
The bishop, who was recently elected chancellor of Africa University, also thanked General Conference for Africa University, the work the church has done this far, and then requested that it “finish the work.” He also thanked the Council of Bishops for its Hope for Children of Africa Appeal because the “program has a meaningful impact in the future and development of African nations.”
He thanked the denominationwide agencies for their support of the churches in Africa. Their actions, he said, are about love and compassion to build a broken world.
“It is a church which brings unity among the nations ... a church which follows the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
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