Overcoming Fear: Or How Not to “Say” and “Do” Silly Things
When people encountered God or angels in the Bible pretty much the first thing they they said to those they went to visit was, “Don’t be afraid”!
Yes, we humans tend to be a fearful bunch… so much so that the Bible has more than 300 verses explaining why we don’t need to be afraid anymore.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-control. 2 Tim 1:7
It’s interesting to note in Paul’s quote to Timothy that when we are acting out of fear, we are not acting out love and self-control. I mentioned in my last post that people acting out of fear tend to say and do silly things.
People not acting in love and self-control “say” and “do” REALLY silly things!
Unfortunately a large portion of the church in the world tends to act out of fear, particularly in the West where it has long enjoyed political privilege. This fear leads to a loss of love and self control which then leads to (everyone say it with me) “saying” and “doing” really silly things.
You then have church leaders (particularly in America) declaring:
- that devastating hurricanes are caused by homosexuality and abortion…rather then just a good old fashion change in barometric pressure.
- that we don’t need to protect the environment because the Second Coming is at hand
- that capitalism is inherently “Christian” while socialism leads to godless atheism.
- a declaration of Christian faith hinges on the purchase of a chicken sandwich
So what drives this fear?
As someone who was trying to explain his reasoning to me recently said, “Steve, don’t you realize, the Philistines are at the gates.”
Ah, the penny dropped.
Nothing drives fear more than the thought that the “foreigners”…the godless…the defiled…the “other” is trying to get into your house and take what you have. A man watching people on the street from the perspective that they are trying to break into his house and take his goods will always be on the defensive.
He will not act in love or self-control…and he will probably “say” and “do” silly things.
This is why the church has become so unappealing to so many. It has personified the image of the psycho guy in the movies holed up in his house with food and ammo convinced the government, the U.N., or outer space aliens are going to burst through the door at any moment.
Is this the eternal life in Christ that Jesus called us to? Are we to build the barriers higher and higher between us and the world so that no one gets in…or gets out? I heard an Anglican priest explain it well when he said,
“Is it any wonder that we have largely become keepers of an aquarium rather than fishers of men?“
I have grace for those who don’t see this yet. I used to be there myself. Convinced that God’s wrath was being prepared to be poured out on America…unless we voted the right way, in which case his hand of wrath would be stayed.
Yep, been there, bought the t-shirt.
I used to see “Philistines at the gates” but now, through the grace of God, I just see people. Often broken, hurting people that need to have the love of Jesus Christ shared with them. People who I need to break bread with and make part of my life in the same manner as my Lord did.
Jesus told us to go into the world and share the good news that in Him you don’t have to be afraid anymore! Just before he left to go to the cross Jesus says this to his disciples:
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27
Can you imagine how attractive the church would look if it personified “peace of mind and heart”? In a world of financial uncertainty, political chaos, and widespread injustice people are looking for an anchor in “peace of mind and heart.”
We have it to give to them…if we’ll only choose to stop being afraid…
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