The suffix –phobic often has the sense of fearing something. Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. Agoraphobia is the fear of crowds. Acrophobia is the fear of heights.
However, that suffix has taken on a life of its own in the current cancel culture. Words like xenophobic, homophobic, and Islamophobic do not refer to fear of illegal immigrants, homosexuals, or Muslims, respectively. Instead, those terms refer to anyone who does not embrace and promote those things as healthy and positive. If you believe, for example, that we should have secure borders and not let anyone into our country illegally, then you are xenophobic, even if you love people from other countries.
I have a new phobia for you, Theophobia.
Theos is the Greek word for God. Theophobia is thus the fear of God.
I thought I had made up that expression. However, it is an actual word, and dictionary.com says it means “morbid fear or hatred of God” (see here). Wiktionary.org says it refers to “an irrational fear of God” (see here).
Well, since the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10; Prov 1:7; 9:10), I’d like to suggest a different meaning for Theophobia: a healthy awe and reverence of God that leads one to seek to please Him. That is the beginning of wisdom.
Fear of God should not be an irrational fear of Him, morbid fear of Him, or hatred of Him. It should be a love of God that moves us to serve Him.
I am Theophobic. I fear God, not in the sense that I think He is unfair, capricious, unloving, ungracious, or punitive. I fear Him in the sense that I know He blesses obedience and curses disobedience. It is in my best interest to please Him. When I serve Him, He is glad and so am I. It is the ultimate win-win situation.
Of course, knowing that you are eternally secure, that you are saved once and for all, is crucial in order to avoid having an irrational or morbid fear of God. Works-salvation folks often are terrified of God and of dying. Their fear of God is irrational because they do not believe in Jesus for the everlasting life that He guarantees to the believer (John 3:16). Legalism produces an unhealthy view of God.
The grace of God produces a healthy view of God.
Do you love God? Are you in awe of His majesty? Do you revere Him? Is your aim in life to be well pleasing to Him? If so, you have a healthy case of Theophobia.