1 Peter 1:17 You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living. (The Message Bible)
This is the Message Bible’s way of dealing with what the NIV version translates as “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.” Most of us struggle with the idea that we should fear God. Some say the Bible means “deep respect” by this. Can you love and fear someone at the same time? Well, yes. Perhaps one of the things indicated by the use of the word fear is that we are to bring the full range of our emotions before God, not a watered down, religious set of them. We can feel fear when we more deeply experience the awesome power that created and sustains all things, that makes such miracles like childbirth, that displays a standard of goodness we know we don’t live up to. We can fear for our frail and fault-filled tendencies in the light of what we know we could and should be. I think the idea of fear reminds us that we are to take God seriously, not to presume on God’s goodness even as we trust it, not to minimize our “sloppy living” even as we believe in God’s mercy. Fear was given to us as part of human nature. How do you love and fear God appropriately?