Thursday, March 7, 2013

Are We Defined By Fear or Faith?


I admire the spirit of some of my friends who desire to engage in good and spiritual dialogue with brethren of a different persuation...only to find closed-mindedness and fear.  I am grateful that the Lord and His Spirit helped to break me out of such religion.  There should be no fear in being open to Bible study and discussion...only opportunity for growth.  I have heard all of the "slippery slope" and "your brains will fall out" (foolish) arguments, and the bottom line is and love cast out fear, and also bring a good perspective and understanding of godliness and spiritual life.  If we are growing in a trusting, revealing relationship with the Lord, there should be no (personal) fear or control...only being under the influence of the Spirit's control. 

The following is an article I wrote a few years ago, but am sharing here, because I think it is appropriate, "To Know Fear Means No Fear."  We live in a culture enamored, or in some cases, engulfed in fear. There is hardly a week that goes by but that I see someone on facebook talking about the need to "live by faith rather than fear." Why? It is because they see "fear" everywhere, as well. We hear about companies who are canning CEO's and employees, colleges that are punting coaches, and churches that are running off elders and preachers. We have all manner of movies, books and other cultural phenomena, including the "horror genre," that promote fear in some form or another. Some are engrossed in these things out of curiosity, while others have more sinister agendas.

We humans are certainly easy targets, as our fleshly, human nature is so easily swayed by fear and other negative emotions. Fear is the tool of the is precisely what Satan desires for all of us. I have seen more "fear" in churches than "faith" in some respects. This ought not be the case. People who are under the influence of fear say things like..."I don't know where this will lead," "we've never done it this way before," "let's go back to the way it was" or "I don't like change"... these are all effective "fear" statements. But, the irony is that, for those who live by faith, this is exactly right. Looking at it from a faith perspective -- we don't know where many things will lead, but this is why we trust the Lord, or...we know that change is inevitable, what can we do to make it work for us instead of against us. A good faith statement to counter-balance "fear" statements might be, "nothing ventured, nothing gained." It is not the cowardly and fearful in society that are remembered for their great acts, but it is those who step out with courage and boldness -- those who choose to live according to faith.

When we are focused on things that are going to bring fear, then that is what we will receive. Fear has, what I would say is, its "not-so-little" friends, such as worry, anxiety, cynicism, pride and perhaps, greatest of all...anger, which, when out of control, can lead to bitterness and hate. Once we give in to one negative emotion, it is easy for one or more of the others to step in for support, and even take over, as they tend to do. I have known people in my life, particularly younger ones...physically or spiritually...discouraged and distraught, because they are held captive by some who are bound by fear. And this all leads to another important partner of fear...and this is "control." When people are fearful, they are insecure...the two work with, or rather, against each other. The irrational thinking is -- if I can somehow control my surroundings, then I will be able to have peace, happiness. But, this is not going to happen. There is a vicious cycle to this that has no good or happy ending, because control leads to even more insecurity, because if something even threatens "control"...even a little...then control has to tighten its grip, which in turn, turns loose even more anxiety, worry, pride and anger, etc.

There is a good solution -- let go! We have to be able to trust the spiritual leadership...and see what good can be done. We need to see the glass half full...not empty. We must adopt the attitude of David, who when he was threatened by Saul and had opportunity to take "control" of his situation by killing Saul, said, "Why would I strike down the Lord's anointed?" He trusted the Lord, and the Lord not only rescued him, but prospered him. David did not choose to give in to fear...being afraid, but chose to live by the other, submission and respect. It is faithful to exercise "caution," in doing such...that is, to be wise and prudent about taking reasonable steps of faith, but we must not give in to an attitude of cynicism, which paralyzes. We can choose to live faithfully, and this brings about a positive trust leads to greater grace, love, joy and genuine peace (all the fruit of the Spirit, in fact) -- a much more productive place to be and a better way to live.

Blessings, Don

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