Archive for October, 2016|Monthly archive page

Fear

Fear is one of the great weapons of the evil one.

Christians are as much victims of fear as anyone.

But God tells us that we are not to be afraid because he is with us (Isaiah 41:10).

I have been thinking of this because I have spoken with people who have fears – fears about world affairs, fears about the future of loved ones, fears about themselves.

I am not immune from fears myself.  But I am gradually learning to place myself in the hands of God.

Often, fear is about something that hasn’t yet happened – but could happen.

I have a friend who is worried about possible terrorist action in Canada.  And another is deeply concerned about what the world will be like for his grandchildren when they become adults.

Both have good reasons for these fears.  It is entirely possible that terrible things will happen in our country and the world.

But Jesus had something to say about this.

In John 16, he says: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart because I have overcome the world.”

What does he mean?  I believe he is saying that, whatever happens, Jesus is triumphant.  Evil will ultimately lose – God’s love will win.

Jesus says in Matthew 10 that his disciples will face trials and flogging for his sake.  But they are not to worry about what to say for the Holy Spirit will give them the words to say.

Jesus is counting on his followers to be wholly dedicated to him and to what God wants in our world.  Such disciples will be equipped by God to confront whatever troubles they face.

I think of a vivid illustration of what it means to grapple with fear.

In Matthew 14, Jesus walks on water toward the disciples who are being tossed about in a boat in heavy seas.  They are terrified at the sight of him coming toward them – walking on the waves.

As I read this, I share their terror.  It is unnatural – supernatural.

But seeing their great fear, Jesus says: “Don’t be afraid.  Take courage. I am here!”

In my mind, that is the vital element in fighting fear – trusting that Jesus is with me.

Fueling the fire

For me, the evangelical church is like a camp fire that is gradually dying down.

If Christians don’t respond, we will soon have just a few scattered embers glowing.

Years ago, the Christian pollster George Barna put his finger on the problem:”Every day, the church is becoming more like the world it allegedly seeks to change.”

Our son recently pointed out one key reason: Many people no longer act as if the Word of God is the ultimate authority in their lives.

This is especially true for young people.  The pressures of society are stronger on young people today than ever before.  And many accept the social views of their friends, even when they conflict with the Bible.

Should we despair?  No, we shouldn’t.

We must never count out God.

Throughout the Bible, we read about the people of Israel abandoning God and conforming to the customs and lifestyles of the people around them.  But God constantly sent people to them – prophets and leaders – who brought them back to him.

Now is the time for us to remember God’s words to the young King Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

God is telling Solomon that the transformation of society begins with Solomon and his people.  As Christians, we need to repent of our sins – particularly our lack of love for each other and for our neighbours.

And we need to pray.  We need to seek God – plead with him to revive and refresh us and send us out like burning embers into the world around us.

I remember seeing a film some years ago about revival that broke out in Uganda during the tyrannical regime of Idi Amin.  Under persecution from Amin, people put aside their denominational differences and prayed together, sometimes standing ankle deep in swamps to evade Amin’s troops.

The Spirit of God moved wonderfully and spiritual renewal swept the church.

I recognize my own need to repent.  And I need the refreshing of the Holy Spirit.

I’m pleased that others do, too.  People are beginning to come together in our city and in other cities, realizing that the battle is bigger than us alone.

We need God to fuel the fire.