Take a moment right now and ask yourself – what scares you?
There are the usual suspects most likely – spiders, snakes, dark places, heights, germs, open water. Have you wondered why those things are commonly frightening?
Because they can hurt us. At least…a few of them can.
But the truth is that the vast majority of spiders are not harmful to humans. Most snakes are also not harmful to us. While you can certainly fall from a high place, it is rare. Most germs that invade us are managed quite easily by our immune systems, and drownings are very uncommon with just a little bit of caution. Yet these are the most common phobias among our species. “Phobias” are irrational fears. They are powerful, they are difficult to turn off, and we will go to all lengths to avoid whatever we are afraid of. Getting rid of a phobia takes a lot of courage and a lot of time, even if we can rationally admit that the phobia is really much worse than it should be.
Today it is common to hear Christians speak and act fearfully. The targets are numerous but similar. They range from more visible things like globalization, government, secularism, and the loss of American patriotism, to more controversial things like celebrity child sex cults, microchip mind control, and Satanic influences in leadership such as the Illuminati and the New World Order. Speakers and pastors are using these fears to whip up their listeners. One pastor, Greg Locke, recently (April, 2021) told his congregation that Christians needed to take the White House “by force” to remove the Satanists. So why is this such a big problem for Christianity? Shouldn’t we call out evil and confront it?
I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment; and the one fearing has not been perfected in love.” Note the connection here between “fear” and “punishment”. The real question is this: who is doing the punishing? The world? The secularists? The government? I don’t think that’s it.
The punisher in John’s words is God.
When you consider this passage with that in mind, the reason that so many Christians see fear in the world around them has nothing to do with the world. It has to do with their relationship to God.
Christians are afraid that God will punish them for not “standing up against evil”, for not “preserving our nation”, for not blogging enough or shouting enough or expressing enough displeasure. Deep within, many of them worry that they will be found lacking by God if they don’t make this a “Christian nation” or cast out enough of the ungodly. But the Word paints a different picture.
Jesus tells us to love. He tells us that Christianity is built on a foundation of mercy and grace, combined with accountability and repentance. The gospels are replete with examples of Jesus being kind, merciful, and patient with people who only sought to harm him and thwart the plans of God. If we are to be vengeful, violent, and merciless in order to spread our faith, then why wasn’t He?
Imagine how many people could be reached with the Gospel of Christ with the energy being spent on our fears. If we want to worry about what God is going to think of us, that might be a better thing to worry about.