The last number of weeks in my life and ministry have been very exciting and fun-filled so I have not been able to write as much as I would like. However, this topic has been weighing on my heart lately especially in light of the recent terrorist attacks our world has been subject to.
Many of you may have just let out a deep breath of frustration at the thought of another blogger, pastor, friend and average social media user ranting about terrorism and what happened in France with the ISIS attacks; and I hear you. I’m sick of all the different opinions and rantings that are filling up social media sites but I think the issue of fear is deeper then just this specific issue.
In the very small amount of time that I have been in full-time paid ministry I have noticed a trend. It permeates many different christian ministries, programs, activities and the everyday lives of people. It is the trend of people to operate out of fear.
I am not talking about fear in the healthy way such as the fear of the Lord; I am talking about the fear that limits our potential as God’s Children.
So often we make decisions as Christians out of a spirit of fear. As a church we are scared to do certain things for fear of losing people, or declining involvement in programs, or the fear of causing division. This fear so cripples that it can cause us to stagnate with regards to growth. We are afraid to take risks and as a result we stay stuck in the same place because we think that if we keep things the way they are we won’t ruffle any feathers. As a result of this lack of direction we don’t grow the church.
We approach our relationships with people within the church this way. We are scared to be vulnerable in our relationships with fellow believers because we don’t want people to know too much. However when we make a decision to put up walls we limit our friends’ ability to speak the word of God into the deepest parts of our hearts.
Sometimes we are scared to worship God freely without fear because we are afraid of looking too spiritual or looking weird to our friends. Also we are afraid to share the joy of the Lord with someone because we don’t want to come across bigoted or close minded. Or maybe we are afraid people won’t receive our message and we will be rejected or labeled extreme. Because we operate out of fear we may never teach our children or those around us that we have to worship God with everything we have. Or we because we are scared to share the gospel a person who may have needed the encouragement or a message of salvation may never have received it.
We approach God this way! We are scared to seek His heart and give up our entire being to Him. Why? Because sometimes we are comfortable with our lives and we are scared that He might tell us to deal with a sin we don’t want to deal with or maybe He will call us to a life we don’t find comfortable. Maybe He will send us across the world or command us to stop a sin we may enjoy. Because we don’t give God our all we limit the purpose, joy and meaning He can provide for our lives.
ISIS is another example of how fear limits our ability to be God’s hands and feet. Unfortunately many of the places in the world that need the love of Jesus are surrounded with instability and the potential for bad things to happen. The problem is that when we choose to sin there are natural consequences. When ISIS chose to murder and cause pain the people of Syria didn’t feel safe and as a result we have instability and refugees. Unfortunately the rest of the world started to react and live in fear as well. Now we have numerous western countries wrestling with whether or not to allow refugees into our countries. We fear that terrorists will be hidden among the refugees. We fear that the influx of people of Muslim faith will change our countries religious landscape. Because of this fear we may lose the opportunity to show Jesus’ love to a group of people who don’t know Jesus. We may miss the opportunity to minister to the broken and confused people of our world. We focus on the negative but who knows the positive impact we could have on these refugees!?
The Truth is Jesus took risks. His disciples took risks. We are called to take risks. Sharing the Love of Jesus is not easy. Jesus risked his reputation and livelihood by hanging out with “sinners.” He eventually lost his life revealing the love of the God the Father. He was resurrected sure; but pne day we will be as well! Losing our earthly life is not the end! To quote Gandalf in Return of the King when Pippin asks about what the end will be like; he says: end? This is not the end. Death is merely the beginning.
Paul gives some words of encouragement to Timothy.
” 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)
As Christians we need to take this verse seriously.