If I were to be completely honest with my thoughts about the state of the Church in North America, (of which I am part), I think I would say that, to a significant degree, the Church seems to be controlled by fear. We easily welcome, accept, and even recommend a risk-free life. We teach caution to our children (not always a bad idea!), and build walls of protection around our lives and ministries.
Yet, nothing in scripture gives even a hint of approval to this way of thinking for the Jesus follower. Jesus, and scripture en masse give no credence to timid behavior; to worry, to self-preservation, or to thinking that is laced with foreboding and bouts of crippling anxiety. Maybe there is a huge hole in our theology in North America—some pervading thought that we are somehow in control of our destiny and therefore must move cautiously to protect everything—from our family, finances, homes, churches, to even our faith from the dangers that seek to threaten our way of life and belief system. It is crippling the Church and stealing our message of hope from those who need it most, leaving us wasting away with little or no impact, yet all the while carrying within us the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, largely untapped. The Bible repeatedly commands against fear, and at the same time, pronounces boldness, confidence and courage.
Our view of God, and our grasp of what was achieved at the cross has much to do with how we process fear, which was never intended to be part of the life of a true follower of Jesus. Our tendency is always to try to explain God and to wrap our heads around who He is, which is where we go off course. God is not explainable, and while we can and should endeavor to learn of Him through the Word and the Spirit, we will never fully understand Him. He is simply MORE. More than we can understand; greater, wiser, stronger, more present, more capable than our wildest imaginings.
If God says “GO,” then I suppose one should go. For He backs up His commands with all the armies of heaven, and His very character and substance.
Do we really believe in His all-reaching capability? Do we still know that He can part rivers...literally...if He wants to? This is our God—the One who commands us to be courageous and have no fear. Not because of anything we can do to protect ourselves, but because of everything He is. With a love too great to ever let us go, He is always on our side. And, the promise of our life that is to come should erase all fear, for what is this current life, really, if not fully surrendered to Him, making His glory and the spread of His kingdom the central reason for absolutely everything we do?
And then there’s the cross. In that moment, when Jesus came back to life, a crazy amount of power became ours. And when Jesus left this earth, His gift of the Holy Spirit, which I think most of us leave significantly under-utilized in our day-to-day lives, is a game-changer. He lives in us, breathes through our thoughts, our emotions, our creativity, and surrounds us with His ever-listening, ever-empowering presence. He is ours to the degree that we invite Him to be; bringing all the might and power that is His to bring.
So, why the fear I wonder? When all of this is true?
May we learn, before learning is imposed upon us, the power that is within us. May we wake each day embracing the reason for our being. May we run in the courage and confidence not of our own selves, but of Him, and Him alone. FEARLESS.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” - 2 Timothy 1:7