For the past couple of years I have written about the top challenges that face the church for the year ahead. God-willing, I plan to do the same at the end of this year also. However, this week during our revival services, it dawned upon me that there is an even greater danger to the modern Christian than those that have been listed in years past. This danger is not found in terrorism, politics, or national threats. Rather, this danger is found in nightmares, the what-ifs, and what-could-be’s. This danger in which we speak is that of fear. Fear can cause individuals to do radical things. Fear makes us shrink back, step aside, or even stick our head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich…although it has been said that ostriches do not practice such. Furthermore, fear is a weapon of Satan.
The Bible makes it clear that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Fear is dangerous for three reasons alluded to in the previous passage of Scripture.
Fear forgets the power of God.
When threats abound and dangers emerge, it is easy for the believer to become panicked. Thoughts abound as to what may ensue in the days and weeks ahead. Could there be a nuclear holocaust? Will there be an outbreak of some unknown disease? Perhaps one’s fears are more simple. What will happen when my son begins to drive? Will my daughter be in danger when she begins to date? When thoughts like these come our way, the enemy takes our eyes off of God and places our minds upon the what-ifs and what-could-be’s. Most of the things we worry about will never come to pass.
Nevertheless, it is important for the believer to keep in mind that God is still sovereign. Even if we face the fears that we hold, God has promised that he will “never leave us or abandon us” (e.g. 1 Kings 8:57; Matthew 28:20). God has an order behind what appears to be chaos. Wait upon God’s plan. It may be that you will not see the full perspective of God’s working in your life until you reach eternity. Even still, don’t be consumed with fear. Be consumed with faith.
Fear forgets the command to love.
Rod Sterling was a genius in the genre of storytelling. His series The Twilight Zone often captured the effects of what fear can do to individuals and to a society. On the show “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” aliens were able to destroy an entire community. The destruction came not by an invasion, but rather by planting seeds of doubt amongst each of the neighbors until the entire community was ready to tear itself apart. The enemy does much of the same. Fear masks the humanity of a person to the point that the person is no longer seen as a person, but an object to be destroyed.
Jesus told his disciples something far different. He said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Jesus even noted that the distinguishing characteristic of Christianity would be that of love as he said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Don’t be consumed by fear. Be consumed with love.
Fear forgets the importance of service.
When fear is left unchecked, people will not seek to help others. Instead, fear leads people to hide away. Perhaps one is tempted to flee to the desert or to take a one-way flight to Antarctica. The Essenes were an important sect of Judaism in the first-century. Some believe that the Essenes may have been the legitimate heirs to the priesthood but were cast out by the Roman sympathizers, the Sadducees. It is possible that some of the early disciples were of the Essene sect, although this is a hotly debated topic in New Testament studies. Nonetheless, the Christians were not to hide away. Rather, they were to be about serving others in the name of Christ. Do not be consumed by fear. Be consumed with service.
Fear leads to bizarre behaviors. However, the Christian is not to be filled with fear. Jesus often told his disciples, “Fear not, it is I.” I think that Jesus is saying the same thing to modern Christians as well. I think he is saying, “Do not fear. I am still in control. Keep serving until I call you home.” Instead of looking to the stars and to the heavens for signs of Christ’s appearing, maybe we should look to the plow because the fields are ripe for harvest.
Do not be consumed with fear. Be consumed with Christ.
© October 29, 2015. Brian Chilton
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