God-Fearing Or God-Loving?
Some months ago, a lovely Parsi woman, settled abroad, dropped in to our office, and as she shared a few amusing stories about her take on Parsipanu in India and abroad, I couldn’t help but notice her habitual use of the phrase, ‘God-fearing Parsi’, in reference to herself and to her earnest Parsi friends. This phrase lingered in my mind long after she left, and I ended up keeping a conscious ear out for its use, then on. I realised ‘God-fearing’ was a rather oft-used phrase amongst us.
I wonder if we realise the irony of it…
“I’m a God-fearing person,” most of us proudly and vehemently proclaim, like it’s supposed to instantly abolish any remnants of doubt or mistrust anyone may hold against your character… simply because you are scared of God! And I’m thinking, but it’s only the guilty who are afraid, no? Now I’m not trying to split hairs on semantics with you on a fine Saturday morning – just trying to bring your attention to the fact, that as Parsis, most of us seem to have forgotten that in our religion and community, which has its essence based on love and happiness, there is absolutely no place for fear.
Love and fear are like light and darkness. Where there is light, there can be no darkness; where there is love there can be no fear. Yes, you can apply this rule to relationships as well… better late than never, I say! But coming back to the concept of being a good, ‘God-fearing Parsi’, a lot of us could argue saying it’s meant in the spirit of respect and reverence. Which again, is balderdash, because the basis of respect and reverence also lies in love. And this brings in quite an interesting twist to the concept of worship, too. Because religious worship is when we take some time out from the rest of the world to connect with our Creator in gratitude, in praise, in peace – which collectively form the anti-thesis of fear!
With absolutely no intention of questioning or offending anyone’s ideology of God or method of worship, I confess – the truth is, we are scared. Well, at least a number of us are. We pray more out of a sense of habit than worship, thus missing the point completely! And at the end of reciting our prayers – which we do in a language we (most) don’t comprehend, and don’t bother to take the effort to understand – we start the whole ‘asking for favors’ bit – mostly to do with safekeeping of one and one’s family; and sometimes material, sometimes immaterial wants. And maybe that’s where fear creeps into us. It’s a vicious cycle – first, we’re apprehensive about our favors being answered. If they do get answered, we are happy but we’re also scared because we now know that there is this ‘power’ which answers our prayers, so we need to keep it appeased, lest it stops fulfilling these favors. And if our favors don’t get answered, maybe this ‘power’ is angry/indifferent with us and that’s why our prayers remain unanswered! Sound familiar? If so, this would be a good time to reconsider how you define your sense of ‘worship’ and ‘prayer’, and your connect with your God.
Our religion teaches us to love and respect our Creator Ahura Mazda, and to be rest assured in the truth that His love for all is unconditional. In short, there is no room for fear. Maybe we too could become God-loving, as was intended, from God-fearing, if only we quit the whole ‘asking’ bit, which is what gets us fearful in the first place. If we truly hold enough love and faith in our God and in our glorious religion, we know that we will receive all that was meant for us anyways – through serendipity or hard work.
The God-fearing live in mortal insecurity, unsure of what the future holds, and of their ability to work it out, and so, they are constantly in a state of ‘asking’ with God. The God-loving, on the other hand, live with the confidence that no matter what life throws at them, God’s got their back, and so, they are constantly in a state of ‘thanking’ God… which is what true worship is all about – faith and gratitude. So, are you God-fearing or God-loving?
Have a good weekend!