Friday, January 23, 2015

Fearless





So, as I’m drilling down to uncover why so many of those who profess to know Christ are comfortable with killing, and torture, and war, I’ve discovered something: It turns out that what we really seem to lack is an abiding connection to the love of Christ in our daily, walking around lives.

At least, I cannot personally fathom how anyone who was abiding in Christ – who is Agape love incarnate – could look at another person made in the image of God and condone their torture, or approve of their death, or justify their suffering – even if it was in the best interest of our nation.

Not only are we disconnected from the love of Christ ourselves – and lacking in love for one another – we are also more often ruled by our fears than by our confidence in our Lord Jesus.

The truth is, our world is inundated with a continual, abiding fear. We are immersed in fear. We are surrounded by it. It is nearly inescapable in our culture today.

Don’t believe me? Just watch the evening news and count how often the word “fear” is used. Listen for how many times the news anchors refer to people who are afraid, or who are horrified, or terrified, etc. and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Then pay attention to the TV shows you watch. Notice how often fear is used to motivate everyone’s actions. Or how those real-life mystery shows train you to suspect your spouse or to mistrust your neighbors.

It’s on the Internet too. Just the other day I posted this on social media:

“Fear says: Buy bigger guns, locks and dogs to protect yourself. Love says: Welcome friend. What's mine is yours.”

The reaction I received to that was this: “Easy enough to say until you’re watching some thug rape your wife or daughter.”

Wow. Instant, automatic fear response. (And, yes, this was from a Christian).

Our choice is simple: We either decide to remain in a place of fear – and then we make decisions that flow from that fear – OR we decide to live in the love of Christ and then we make decisions that flow from Him and His love.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, we cannot do both.

Either we put our hope in Christ and we walk in His love, or we walk in fear and we live our lives as people who must manage those fears.

Let’s consider this for a moment: Could someone who honestly put their hope in Christ ever live in continual fear? Of course not! And someone who is led by their fears can’t – at the same time – be completely trusting the Lord and placing their hope in Him. The two are mutually exclusive.

As I’ve said once before, Jesus came and introduced us to something called “The Good News (or Gospel) of the Kingdom” and it is about complete submission and daily reliance upon Christ.

We either follow the Way of the World (which involves fear, and violence, and torture, and power, etc.), or we follow the Way of Christ (which involves trust, and love, and humility and service to others, etc.).

We cannot follow the Way of the World and the Way of Christ at the same time. It’s like saying that you’re going to get in your car and drive East and West at the same time. It can’t be done.

Either go one way or the other, but you can’t do both because one path will take you in the opposite direction from the other one.

Why am I writing about fear? Because fear is the flip side of the coin from love. We’re told that “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 Jn. 4:18) And I believe that if we cling to our fears we’ll also experience less love and suffer from the effects of that deficiency.

Anyone who doubts this can simply look around you. Our world is not following the Way of Christ. It is saturated with fear. It is ruled by fear. It is all about power and control and exploitation and selfishness. 

Jesus came and died to demonstrate a better way. That’s what we call the Good News. 

It means we can abandon those ways of being and start living a different way – a Heavenly way. It means we can actually be transformed from within by His incredible love and His amazing Holy Spirit into people who are not ruled by fear any longer.

Because we put our continual hope in Jesus we can love without fearing pain. We can trust without fearing violence. We can give without fearing poverty. We can share without fearing guilt.

As followers of Jesus, we have to say no to fear and yes to love. We have to repent and turn away from the way of the world. We have to put our hearts into His capable hands and begin to trust Him with everything. We have to start learning how to walk in love and to leave fear behind us for good.

Abiding in Christ means abandoning fear. The only thing that casts out all fear is His perfect love. When we are filled with his love there is no more room for fear. When His love fills us, we can’t help but love everyone around us – even our enemies.


“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:16-19)


11 comments:

Clay Neal said...

This is hard teaching. Who can accept it. I'm 52 years old and was raised in church from a baby. I am just now really understanding what it means to follow Jesus. This helps me understand that others around me may have not reached that point. I will continue to love in all the ways that Jesus taught. It is a narrow sometimes lonely road. Thank you Keith for always challenging me and encouraging me with your writings.

A J MacDonald Jr said...

Joshua Casteel: "To Love One's Enemies": http://youtu.be/rM98TuV-RB0 via @YouTube

Anonymous said...

Always loved that fact that Paul prayed that we would have the strength to know His love. Apart from His strength, or a revelation from Him, we cannot know His love, much less express it!

Steve Kline said...

Totally agree Keith.

Love sees the best in people and fear sees the worst.

Love and fear as opposites sparked an idea. We can see our wrong motives by changing 1 Corinthians 13 a little bit.

Fear is impatient and is evil; fear envies and lusts for what others have; fear parades the self for all to see; fear puffs up; fear is rude, disrespectful, and demeaning, fear seeks its own gain, fear is provoked brings the self under the control of what is feared; fear thinks evil continuously; fear rejoices in iniquity and lawlessness; fear rejoices in lies; fear is impatient, it bears nothing and demands everything now; fear believes nothing and is skeptical of everyone; fear despairs and says all is lost; fear waits for nothing and takes action immediately.

I have acted in that fear. Sadly, I still do. But, praise God I'm learning more and more to walk by, with, and in Christ.

Phillip Walters said...

I understand when the choice is about a response to a personal threat. But how do we respond to Christian brethren in Syria when they cry out for help against a murderous threat that will not be stopped by words of love. Do we feel sorry for them, promise to pray for them and hope they'll die with dignity?

Keith Giles said...

Steve: I love your comment. Do I have your permission to republish it here on my blog (with full credit to you, of course)?

Phil: Our response as Christians to our brothers and sisters in other nations who are undergoing persecution is to pray. I know it seems small and weak, but God promises that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

Another thing we can do is to develop relationships with brothers and sisters in those nations and correspond with them, and encourage them to respond in love to those who are persecuting them.

Keith Giles said...

AJ: Wow! That video is so amazing. I have posted it to my Pacifist Fight Club blog page and also shared it via Twitter and FB.

Thanks for sharing that with all of us.

Keith Giles said...

Clay: I am a late bloomer as well. After more than 15 years as a licensed and ordained pastor I finally heard and received the Gospel of the Kingdom and that has turned my whole world upside down - in a good way!

Clay Neal said...

Great question. How do you love a man who beheads another? Love is an action, not an emotion. So, what do you do? What action do you take?

Steve Kline said...

Keith:

You can absolutely repost my comment!

Steve

Doug Webster said...

NPR did a program on fear just before this. While a lot of it doesn't directly relate, they point out how people are more fearful now than they used to be, even though our society isn't any more dangerous. The media and politicians certainly prey upon people's fears (as do others). http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/377515477/fearless?showDate=2015-01-16