02 January 2011

Red flags of fear

We live in a fear-driven world.  And the opposite of fear is faith.

Politicians and news media are in a love-affair with Fear.  They love to tell us what to be afraid of day in and day out.

What are we told to be afraid of:

  • North Korea
  • Taliban
  • Democrats
  • Republicans
  • Left-wing
  • Gays
  • Homophobes
  • Recession
  • Climate change
  • Liberals
  • AIDS
  • Right-wing
  • Foreclosure
  • Conservatives
  • Muslims
  • Inflation
  • Water
  • Banks
  • Terrorists
  • Fundamentalists
  • Fox News
  • CNN
  • Personal fears… fear of failure, fear of exposure

I think we live in a world of fear.

Even in the Church.  Fear eats our faith like a kid eats chocolates.  Like a hungry hound licks his bowl.  Like those South American fish in a feeding frenzy.

What are we afraid of?  Mostly everything it seems.  Seems we are afraid of the world in which we live.  All the "isms" eat our lunch and cause us fear: terrorism, secularism, fundamentalism, globalism, pluralism.

We are weak in theology, belief-systems, world-views and therefore afraid of challenges.  Comfort in thinking and believing and experience makes us weak when we are challenged.  Our theology teaches us how to deal with guilt, but not with shame. Or with fear.  We are afraid that someone will die.  And as I once told my daughter, "There are worse things than death..."

Living in fear is worse than death.  Living afraid is harder than dying.  Constant emotional and mental fear is bad.  Debilitating.  So many things to be afraid of... so little time.

Unfortunately, we in the West are often part of an fear-driven church.  (Some church leaders base their whole ministry on fear!  Yikes!)  And the church is not supposed to be that way.  Hey! we’re a “faith-based” and faith-driven entity.  Or we’re supposed to be!

The world around is is driven by fear of the possibility.  For example, a few weeks ago I sat in a hotel room and watched the news media go crazy after a story came up about unexploded parcel bombs.

The opposite of “faith” is not “doubt” – it’s “fear.”

But faith has to be grounded in something that is genuine and real.  Faith can’t be grounded in the concept of faith or the possibility of God.  Real faith must be tied to a certainty of hope.

Sometimes, we preach fear by telling people about the result of their sin without giving room for the Holy Spirit to present a Savior.

When there is a red flag of fear, there is a an opportunity to rally faith!  Yes! bad stuff will happen.  People will get sick, lose jobs, experience loss.  Bad stuff happens.  But we serve a loving and caring God.  And faith is often counter-intuitive.  Faith is often believing for the best in spite of the ever-looming worst.

Mark Twain said something like this: “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”   But I say: No! Faith is believing what you know in a way beyond sensual understanding is so, in spite of what the situation and circumstances and news commentators say!

When there is a red flag of fear, there is a an opportunity to rally faith!  Real faith is tied to the certainty of a real Jesus and the reality of His redemption, His Presence and His care.

And yes, I’m talking to you… and to me.

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