The fear of God, or the fear of the Lord, is a concept with which Christians are intimately familiar. It is found throughout the pages of scripture, mostly (though not exclusively) in the Old Testament. I would say the majority of Christians have been taught to believe that it is a good and necessary thing to fear God. Of the many texts that can be marshalled in support of this view, perhaps the most frequently cited is Psalm 111:10:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.
Most discussions about the fear of God tend to revolve around semantics: does the word fear mean terror, or does it mean respect and reverent admiration? Well, I’m no Bible scholar, but even the most cursory research reveals that the Hebrew word that is here translated fear, yir’ā(h), does indeed carry the notion, among others, of terror or dread.
On the face of it, then, scripture seems to suggest that God is to be feared, that we are to be afraid of him, and that this is a Good Thing.
Consider the following scripture:
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
(1 John 4:7-8)
So, when the author of 1 John wants to sum up as concisely as possible what God is like, here is what he says: God is love. So far, so uncontroversial.