April 29, 2004
By Linda Green*
(UMNS)—Fear of the Lord gives Christians reason and wisdom to please
God, a United Methodist bishop told the denomination’s top legislative
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Singers from nine United Methodist seminaries join to lead Thursday morning worship at General Conference.
an April 29 sermon, Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo encouraged the 998
delegates attending the United Methodist General Conference to respect
God because to do so is a first step toward knowledge and good sense.
Ntambo leads the church’s North Katanga Area in the Democratic Republic
to the actions of David in I Samuel — when David spared his enemy for
fear of what the Lord would do to him — Ntambo told the delegates that
“fear of the Lord to you and to me is to please God and not God to
is no fear of the Lord when infidelity, hatred and hypocrisy are a way
of life, the bishop said. Fear is not present when the church has not
accomplished its mission toward the people of the world or when it fails
to identify sin to its members, he proclaimed.
the sermon, Ntambo evoked the “fear phrases” used by the late President
Franklin D. Roosevelt to illustrate how the church and nations will be
judged by God because of their failure to provide sustenance to those
who have little or nothing.
A UMNS photo by John C. Goodwin
Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo preaches during morning worship on April 29 at General Conference.
the church or the nations fail to identify and meet the need of the
hungry people and the disinherited, and when the nations have the means
to finish poverty and hunger, but do not act accordingly, there is not
fear of the Lord.”
addition to fearing and revering God, the Lord also requires the church
and Christians to say “no” to sin, he said. “It is the duty of the
church to say no to oppression, racism, injustice and so forth.”
many techniques and technologies are available in the 21st century to
win people to Christ, there is no fear of the Lord to make it happen, he
lack of resources is prohibiting missionaries from doing the work of
the Lord, and the membership of local congregations is decreasing, but
no effort is being made to bring the people back, he added.
is not the fear of the Lord,” he said. “Of course, God is love, grace,
compassion and forgiveness, but God is also a judge, and the judgment is
ahead of us for you and me.”
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Drummer Adejumoke Onatunde, Nigeria, is backed by a mass choir of seminary singers during morning worship.
ended his message by calling the United Methodist Church “to engage day
and night in the prospective of the fear of the Lord. The day we will
meet the Lord, we will be given the crown of victory.”
bishop, who was recently elected chancellor of Africa University, also
thanked General Conference for Africa University, the work the church
has done this far, and then requested that it “finish the work.” He also
thanked the Council of Bishops for its Hope for Children of Africa
Appeal because the “program has a meaningful impact in the future and
development of African nations.”
thanked the denominationwide agencies for their support of the churches
in Africa. Their actions, he said, are about love and compassion to
build a broken world.
“It is a church which brings unity among the nations ... a church which follows the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.