Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A New Perspective on Fear: Faithlessness Revealed

My other blogs are:
A New Perspective on Fear
Faithlessness Revealed

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:

Psalm 23
1The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
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.
And yet:
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.
Fear is not a God-given response, it serves some good purposes to get us out of danger, yet when Adam and Eve were created there was no danger. Adam and Eve, if they were created with the capacity for fear and worry, would have most certainly felt tremendous fear when approached by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, fear is a required skill in this world after they fell, since life and death come crashing into our lives on a daily basis. Our lives face continual disturbances and shortcomings, and for some, living on the edge of death is commonplace. There will be no fear in the heavens when we reside with Christ in his perfect kingdom, in fact, Revelation describes a new Earth and a new heaven, where all tears and suffering are simply nonexistent:
Revelation 21:1-4
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.”
This is our reward, after all, how many of you realize that God made the heavens and the Earth for us? The Earth itself was given to us as a gift. Imagine, you awake one day, and the leaders of the world surround your bed and all agree to give you the entire Earth to rule as a king, with complete power over everything and everyone. You must understand that God did not die for you to condemn you nor to simply let you live your life and be alone in your fears. God entered human history to be a part of our lives. He sent us his Holy Spirit so that he would be with us always, for the Holy Spirit in the Counselor, and counselors give therapy. As Christians in a world at war, we need so much therapy. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is always with us, and we hear the voice of God through the Spirit. Never fear, for fear is a lack of faith. It is not Christ like to fear, for fear is a tool of the Devil and fear is a sign that we think we will be punished or abandoned. Perfect love in Christ knows no fear, and as the new heaven and Earth will have no fear or pain or sadness, then we must all strive to live our lives now without fear. Be courageous, and remember, Christ did not die for you to condemn you for your sins nor did he die just to say I love you, and then disappear from your life. The sea of problems and troubles you face are meant to bring you into dependence on God. After all, we are sheep. We were never meant to stray from our shepherd.
If you face suffering, you ought to read my articles about suffering for Christ and on developing your faith called "Suffering for Christ: Humans Learning to Be Lambs"
and read
Walk with God in fearlessness. Be courageous and continually say to yourself each day, "Christ did not die for me to let me live alone! He is with me always!"
God bless!