What exactly is God afraid of? Nothing. He isn’t afraid of anything, because love casts out fear, and He is love. If you aren’t feeling love when He’s around, something’s wrong, because that’s Him: Love! When you’re feeling fear, that’s not Him.
Through the Cross, Jesus has made each and every one of unpunishable. Sin does not need to be punished. It doesn’t need to be controlled. If we’re going to lead our communities in revival and build a place for the presence of love, we have to interact with one another in such a way that eliminates the punishment option, the need to control people when they fail. When we stand in the presence of sin and respond with fear and control, it makes us look like idiots. This would be a good thing to unlearn. Those who sin do not need to be punished. We have to work out a response to the real lives of the people around us – a response to sin that contains no punishment.
Look at how most Church environments respond when someone breaks the rules. All the responses are to shepherd the person back into a right relationship with the rules. Punishment is the tool par excellence to restore a person to a right relationship with the culture of rules. You can be amazingly obedient to the rules but not manifest the life of the Kingdom because there’s no life in the rules. Most people have a relationship with the rules, and thus their behaviour is motivated by fear of punishment rather than a heart-to-heart relationship of love with the Spirit.
When we panic in the presence of sin, it is evidence of how important the rules are to us. I would say we have enough evidence to assert that the rules are centrally important in much of Church culture. It is time for us to look at this evidence and admit that our fearful responses directly contradict the message of Christ that we are preaching. We can choose to either protect the rules and create a religious culture, or to protect our relationships and create a culture of love. And only one of these two options is the covenant that Christ died to make with us.