|A New Perspective on Fear|
Fear. Nervousness. Angst. Anxiety. Hopelessness. Phobias. Terror. There are plenty of words to describe the many levels of fear people experience in their lives, starting on the right with basic fear, working its way to anxiety and finishing with terror. We all have our fears, and sometimes we even experience terror, but how many people realize that their fear is a lack of faith? As Christians who struggle to become fully alive, that is, to reach for that idea of perfect faith in Christ, fear and worry stand opposed to living in faith with Christ. Few people realize that when they agonize over what they will do if they lose their jobs or cannot pay their bills, that when they doubt that their needs will not be taken care of that they are actually doubting that God is in their life in a positive way. What this means, is simply that when we experience fear and doubt, we lose faith that God is truly in our lives taking care of us. As it says so often in the Bible, we walk with God, and he walks with us. He is the shepherd who guides his flock to safe, green pastures. In what part of this picture in your mind does fear and anxiety have a rightful place? Of all of those sheep the loving shepherd is guiding, how many of them in your mind are agonizing over what they must do to keep themselves well fed? No, they follow the shepherd and rely fully on him to guide them to green pastures. For as it is written so well in the following Psalm:
1The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life; And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord
I added some emphasis to some of the parts that describe how followers of God should feel. In perfect love and faith, we should be walking with God in such a way that we never feel any fear, and walk with hearts abounding in love, and we look to Christ for all our needs, for he is our shepherd. How many of those sheep in that picture up above are walking on their own? How many of those sheep are depicted doing anything except being fed? None of those sheep are worrying about food or water or safety. They all stand around their shepherd and are depicted in complete tranquility. They eat their grass and do not even bother to look up or survey the field. They do not worry about predators or starvation. Fear has no place in that picture. But like all pictures, this one depicts an idyllic version of the Christian goal: walking with God in perfect faith. Unlike sheep who quickly learn their shepherds voice and never forget, humans do not always recognize the voice of their shepherd Christ, and because we do not walk in perfect faith, fears and anxieties easily take root in our hearts as our troubles eventually get the better of us.
1 John 4:15-18
15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Have you ever thought about what fear is? If all things good come from God, yet it is said that nothing evil ever came from God, then where does fear and anxiety and depression come from? Humans did not create their illnesses and disorders, but neither was it natural to them (Adam and Eve were not created imperfect, but were fully alive before the fall), so where is all of your fear rooted? The answer lies to the right. The picture says it all. It is a disturbing picture, and about the only picture I could find that showed some sort of fear while also demonstrating demonic influences. We live in a society ruled by the Evil One, and it shows, for demonic artwork has become vivid and beautiful. Why would demonic art be beautiful? Why do people find demons to be gorgeous and worthy of depiction with pencils and paints? Because our once great world is now subject to a host of demonic influences that berate and beat Christians with worry, hate, sin, fear, lust, and violence. We live in a world that has slowly turned more and more from God.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”