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Don't Be Afraid

Everyone, it seems, is afraid of something these days.  Some people are afraid of what will happen to our nation once president-elect Obama takes office.  Others are afraid of all-out war in the Middle East.  And everyone is afraid of the economy.  We're supposed to be in a season of thanksgiving and hope, but right now you'd be hard pressed to find many people embracing these positive emotions.  Instead, you're likely to find people who are afraid.  Very afraid.

What a shame.

Fear has its merits, such as the "fight or flight" survival instinct built into animals and humans alike who, when faced with a fearful situation, either put up a fight or run for their lives.  But the kind of nail-biting fear that is gripping people these days isn't producing the fight or flight response.  Instead, the fear we are seeing around us is causing hand-wringing and paralysis.  It's the kind of fear that inspires people to do nothing except maybe wait for the tough times to end. 

Ironically, Christians have a tendency to get caught up in this mentality.  Althought they have the most to live for, they get bogged down by the concerns of the culture and seriously doubt that anything can be done to change the way things are.  As a result, they disengage, circle the wagons, and dream about a time when evil will be vanquished and they will live in a heavenly mansion forever.

As people of faith, we can do better than that.  Taking nothing away from the eventual elimination of evil and a future in heaven, we can do something now.  We can step away from our selfish lives, get over our fears, and actually do something productive for both the sake of God's Kingdom (you know, the one Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:33) as well as for the good of the culture.

Even in a world going bad--especially in a world going bad--we need to take the long view.  Yes, Jesus may return tomorrow, but what if He doesn't come back for a while?  What are we doing today that will make a difference next year or in the next century or in the next 500 years?  Rather than sitting on our hands, overwhelmed by a spirit of fear because of the calamties around us, we need to be the best people of faith we possibly can.  And we need to be the best scientists, econominsts, artist, filmmakers, social workers, philosophers, etc. that we can.  As C.S. Lewis said in a sermon preached at Oxford in the fall of 1939 at the dawn of World War II,

"I think it important to try to see the present calamity in a true perspective.  The war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.  Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.  Human culture has always had to exist in the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself.  If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would hever have begun.  We are mistaken when we compare war with 'normal life.'  Life has never been normal.  Even those periods which we think most tranquil, like the nineteenth century, turn out, on close inspection, to be full of crises, alarms, difficulties and emergencies."

There's no question there are "crisis, alarms, difficulties and emergencies" all around us.  But we must not give in to fear.  If we do--and this is the Bible talking here--we will end up in a "snare," helpless and powerless.  On the other hand, if we exercise some faith and trust in the God who freely gives help and power, we will be "safe" (Proverbs 29:25).

People often think the way to overcome fear is to muster up some courage.  Not true.  If Proverbs is correct, the antidote to fear is faith.  David said as much when he wrote:  "The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear" (Psalm 27:1).  And Jesus confirmed the whole fear/faith issue when He reached out His hand to catch Peter, who was full of fear as he sank in the stormy sea, and told him: "You of little faith.  Why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31).

We don't have to be afraid.  We have reason for thanksgiving and hope.  The reason isn't found in our own effort to muster up courage, or in our ability to fix the crises, alarms, difficulties and emergencies in our culture.  The reason is found in a reasonable faith placed in the living God.



Thanks for the reminder.

Amen, a timely message. We need to be about our Father's business trusting that He is about ours.

Thank you for sharing. Teresa

this is encouraging. thank you!

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Stan's entire life has been wrapped in content: selling, writing and publishing books and resources that help ordinary people capture a glimpse of extraordinary things.