What Has Fear to Do With Faith?
The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1).
Fear is something that creeps under the carpet and into our minds quietly, often unnoticed. When’s the last time your church did a sermon series on the topic of Fear? Admittedly, Christians do talk about fear… sometimes. Kind of. We talk about certain types of fear, or certain things to fear. But often with one voice we denounce tendencies to fear certain things, while with more subtle whispers we encourage different kinds of fear.
From pulpits, books, and speakers we hear homilies on the fear of loneliness, singleness, disease, failure, and death. We circle up in small groups and admit to one another that we have a fear of commitment, or a fear or failing our children. “God is bigger than your fear!” we say to each other. “Trust him!”
But over here in Western Christianity, we have such a strange juxtaposition in the way our culture talks about fear. We say those encouraging things about having “freedom from fear” through Christ – but it’s always in such a fluffy, abstract way. Do we understand why we have that freedom? Better yet, do we know what that freedom looks like?
And then on the opposite hand we actually foster fear of certain things. We cringe at government edicts, and spread the fear losing our freedoms. We encourage fear of said government, especially if the political persuasion of the house majority is different from our own. All throughout the ages children have grown up with a fear of bodies and a fear of sex, due to vague or hands-off instruction from parents mostly consisting of “DON”T DO IT!” We fear it when people have differing opinions. We fear persecution.
We fear messing up and getting our doctrine wrong. We fear sin. We even fear other people’s sin.
Perhaps most tragically of all, I think we have a fear of giving too much grace. Or of giving grace but not giving enough truth.
It would appear we have a fear of looking weak and even a fear of our God looking weak. But does our Almighty God truly need us to defend his honor to the world? Jesus took on weakness in many ways. He came to shame the powerful by using the weak (1 Corinthians 1:27) – and he started with himself. Jesus was serious about reminding people that choices have consequences (Matthew 23:12), but Jesus never picked up a sword and Jesus didn’t fight back when he was beat upon (Luke 22:49). Jesus didn’t invoke his God-given rights. Jesus died.
Shouldn’t this biblical description speak loudly into how we fear? How we think about fear?
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father" (Romans 8:15).
Intersecting Faith and Life: When you are tempted to let the evil of this world, the words of others, or the stirrings of your heart lead you into fear – remember that you have received the spirit of sonship through Christ! “What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalms 56:4)