Friday, October 26, 2012

Nothing to Fear but Fear

As I have shared in prior blog posts, I started this blog as a way to get over my fears of putting myself "out there" and being more upfront about my personal testimonies and faith in Christ (among other reasons).  I have also shared at length the reasons why I grew up being pretty fearful as a child.  Fear is a very debilitating thing.  It stifles creativity, productivity, joy, peace, faith, trust, and love.  If ignored, it can become a raging inferno in the life of the person struggling with it.  Fear masks itself in many ways--in dishonesty, in guardedness, in pride, in anger, in jealousy, in addictions, and the list could go on forever.

Most everyone knows the historically significant quote by President Franklin D. Roosevelt:  "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," which he stated in his March 4, 1933 inaugural address.  That quote has become a highly reused statement over the years by politicians, preachers, teachers, and the like, for obvious reasons.  It is not only a catchy, pithy statement, but it is also loaded with truth.  When we let fear take over in our life, we basically lose our life.  Whatever we are fearing can be no worse than losing our life.  So when we cower to fear, we are essentially allowing the greatest thing we fear to happen with certainty. (Whew, that is confusing)!  But hopefully you get my point.

With Election Day only a little more than a week away, it is hard to not blog about politics even on a small scale.  At this point, everyone is sick and tired of hearing the various opinions on for whom they should vote and why.  Personally, I don't ever recall an election where I've heard so many people remark about how truly uninspired they are with regard to our voting choices.  Once again, the country is pretty polarized, but this time around it seems as though everyone is just choosing up sides based on habit rather than on passionate excitement and fervor for their particular candidate.  Speaking of fear, I must admit that I have a lot of fears about the current state of our nation.  America's financial situation alone keeps me up at night if I spend any time at all pondering it.  It isn't fun to imagine what life might be like for my grandchildren with the debt load they will face and the number of less than desirable nations to which they will owe a great deal of money.  It is almost not even fathomable.  I find myself praying about it and due to the size of the burden, I am forced to let it go. What else can a person do?!  Vote as intelligently as possible, I guess.

Last night, I enjoyed dinner with a few of my fellow band mates at church after our rehearsal.  We got started talking politics, and one friend shared how weary he is of the Republican Party, as well as,  "Americans for Prosperity," and "The Tea Party," acting as if, "Jesus would be a card carrying member of the Republican Party wrapped in an American flag."  It cracked me up.  I agreed that in thinking about who we should vote for in this election, and in attempting to consider, "for whom Jesus would vote," party really doesn't even factor into it.  Jesus looks on the heart and actions--not on the political party.  As for me, I'll probably vote for the lesser of two evils like I tend to do in every election.  In weighing the, "lesser of those evils," I will use God's Word, prayer, and the evidence at hand to decide.

So politics and national issues are certainly areas where a person can easily let fear rule.  It wasn't very long ago that I realized our nation isn't invincible.  I seriously had never thought about that until 9-11.  When you grow up in a country where nearly everyone is well-fed and pretty spoiled in general, you come to believe that your nation is impermeable to change.  You believe it will always exist and will always continue to improve because how could a nation so strong, powerful, and big ever be harmed, seized, or cease to exist?! When you are raised on the belief that America is the number one super power and dominant force in the world, you just can't see how that could ever change or end.  But I now have come to realize how false this notion is and how fortunate I have been, in the forty-two years of my life, to have even had the great fortune of believing those myths.  We Americans have been blessed to take for granted the lifestyle to which we've become accustomed.  Many folks in other countries have never had that luxury--change and national upheaval have been their constants.  I fear that my children and grandchildren may have to face that kind of country one day.  I pray against it, but at times, fear dominates.

For the sake of self-preservation (dare I say, "fear??"), I am not going to say for whom I am voting in the upcoming election.  Most of my close family and friends know anyway.  If I am honest, I must say that I have fears about where the next four years will find our nation.  We've dug ourselves into so many holes at this point, I am unsure how anyone can buy a big enough shovel to dig us out.

But what does Jesus say about fear, and of what or whom we should fear?  In Luke 12:4-5, Jesus says, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.  But I will show you Whom you should fear: Fear Him Who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him."  Obviously, God is the only One we should fear.  Jesus goes on to tell the crowd and His disciples how they can avoid this wrath of God.  Further down in Luke 12:8-10, He says, "I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges Me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.  But whoever disowns Me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."  So what does Jesus mean here?  He is clearly saying that there is no other way to God but through Him.  He is also stating that if we shun the Holy Spirit (in other words, if we shun God's Spirit nudging us to believe in His Son and what He did on the cross as payment for our sins), there is no forgiveness for that.  We can be forgiven for everything else, even if we've ever been guilty of defaming Christ.  But if choose to go on doing that and continue shunning the Holy Spirit, Who is trying to provoke us to belief in Christ, we cannot be forgiven for that.  In fact, this is the only thing recorded in God's Word of which we cannot be exonerated.  This makes sense, too, because why would God come down to earth as a man (as Christ), to suffer at the hands of men on our behalf, and allow us to blaspheme and rebuke His Spirit (essentially, refuse to believe in what He did for us on the cross), and then let us into heaven anyway?  That is crazy!  If everyone was going to get into heaven, why would He have bothered to come down and suffer the cross?  What a colossal waste of time that would have been!  In Luke 10:22, Jesus says, "All things have been committed to Me by My Father. No one knows Who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows Who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him."  Furthermore, Jesus states in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  In other words, Jesus is clearly stating that there is only one way to the One true God--through Him.  This was a pretty bold statement to make to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, who rather liked thinking that their good deeds were getting them into heaven.  He is essentially also rebuking and discrediting all other faiths, religions, and any other pious, humanistic views of how to "be saved" or "get to heaven," by saying that if anyone doesn't believe in Him, know Him, and trust in the salvation He alone can give them, then they do not know God.  Any other way to God or eternity in heaven is merely a fruitless attempt, according to the Bible.  

Let me bunny trail to say that God's Word, The Holy Bible, happens to be the best selling book of all time, with more than 6 billion in worldwide sales.  It was written by more than 40 authors, over 1,600 years, all with factual, eye-witness accounts, and in which all prophecies listed have come to pass thus far.  All historical and geographical commentary within the Bible has also been tested and found to be fully accurate, with many proofs and geological evidence from archaeological digs to corroborate it.  Add to all that, the fact that those 40 authors somehow all magically seemed to agree, over quite a span of time, on the details, purpose, and points of the Good Book.  Our entire calendar system is based on the life of Christ, and the Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed that God's Word had stood the test of time.  Scholars have picked the Bible apart to discredit it only to find that it is 99.9% pure in its translations over time (and many argue that it is actually closer to 100% pure).  When Christ said in Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will never pass away," He wasn't kidding.  So when we say the only certainties are death and taxes, we can safely add God's Word to that list.

So what is my point in sharing the Gospel of Christ with you today, and how does this relate to fear?  Well, if the only fear we should ever have is a healthy fear of God, the One who created us and everything around us, and the one Who decides our eternal fate, then we need to make our peace with Him.  Everything else we fear just needs to be laid at His feet.  Everything else is pretty irrelevant or minor.  God is in ultimate control of everything--from our personal lives to the election results next week.  We live in a fallen world, and nothing will ever be "right" until the One Who returns makes it right.  So we just need to trust and rest in Him.  We have nothing to fear but fear...and the One Who says we should fear Him.