Thursday, March 19, 2009

Perfect Love casts out Fear

Fear. It may seem like a totally normal thing to be afraid, but it seems so out of place in the heart of a Christian. There are so many people who claim to follow Christ whose lives are dominated by complete fear.
I've witnessed believers afraid to go into a certain area of the city. The voices of those declaring war so that we might be safe, out of fear that something bad will happen to us. Most recently, I've heard pastors respond out of fear due to the church shooting in St. Louis, and declare that we need more security in churches, including armed guards at our entrances.
The whole thing boggles my mind, because I start to wonder if anyone actually believes what they say they believe. Scripture is abundantly clear that God did not give us a spirit of fear. The Bible states that perfect love casts out fear. There are parts where it says "whom shall I be afraid? If God is for us, who can be against us?" or even better yet, do not fear them who can only harm the body, but fear that which can harm the soul.
And yet the church seems to focus more and more on fear of external dangers while completely neglecting those things which can harm us for eternity. We will put armed guards at the doors of churches, yet we rarely do anything about the complacency so rampant in our church. We will so readily stay out of certain areas of town, without teaching one another about hope and reconciliation and the dangers of ethnocentrism. It's really simple for us to cheer on the things that bring us security, and take it to the point that we feel our safety comes from a pay check every week, and when that doesn't come, to believe God suddenly has abandoned us (when we refuse to depend on Him the rest of the time).
I may be a cynic and too harsh on the church at times, but it really concerns me as a minister, when people live so different than what the Bible claims. The Bible claims that the worse thing that can happen to us is death, and even that isn't so bad after all... actually it is the opposite of bad, for if we truly believe that Christ conquered sin and death, then why are we so afraid all of the time?
If we truly believe that Jesus was just the firstfruits of many who will rise from the dead (of which we are a part of) then why do we walk around so constantly afraid... why do Christians of all people have this shoot first, ask later mentality?
I am not saying we shouldn't use common sense, for we should, but with our common sense, we also have to stop worrying and fearing so much, and learn to trust God. He is capable of taking care of us. He is capable of bringing peace, hope, and reconciliation into the darkest of places, and the most violent of situations. He is calling us to do the same. If we do not believe God can bring hope, than our entire faith falls apart.
So I challenge us all, to not live out of fear, but out of grace and love. Live out of the hope that one day all things will be made new, and god will redeem all things, and we can be a part of that right now... or we can live in fear, but we can not do both.

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