The problem of fear is so great among Christians and instead of doing something about it we often simply dismiss it or ignore it as though it were non-existent. But it really is like the proverbial “elephant in the room.” You cannot hide it and as much as you would like for it to disappear it simply will not go away on its own.
My friend who told me of his problem with fear responded to my comments saying that it had occurred to him that the Lord didn’t want us to be worried, unhappy and fearful. He says that when we realize what Christ has done for us that far exceeds anything we face in this life. To that I can only add one thing … Amen!
That is, I think, something of what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Philippian Christians of his own experience …
Phil. 4:12-13 “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Paul may have been considering the twin of fear – worry or anxiety – in this passage. But whichever it was, either can be debilitating, paralyzing us into inaction, overcoming the best of intentions, crippling us and preventing us from making progress in our life and in our service for the Lord.
When we realize where fear comes from it should cause us to fight it with all the power of our being. What keeps us from fighting it is that we have convinced ourselves that “this is just the way I am.” But think about it. One of the most frequent things we hear Jesus saying when he was upon the earth was, “…do not fear,” “…have no fear,” “…fear not,” “…do not be afraid.” (Mat. 10:26; Mat. 10:28; Mat. 10:31; Mat. 14:27; Rev. 2:10; etc.).
Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Oh, Jesus does teach us to fear God, but this kind of fear is a healthy, motivating fear. It is not the cowering, abject fear that demoralizes and immobilizes us into a mass of quaking protoplasm. It is respect for God that along with faith in him and love for him that will move us to move mountains. It is this kind of fear that will expel the other kind of fear he doesn’t want us to have.
Luke 12:5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
So where does the wrong kind of fear come from? Certainly our Lord does not want us to have this kind of fear so it can’t come from him. Who is it that whispers into our ear, “You are nothing!” “You are a failure!” “You messed up before, so why try again?” “You know you can’t do that!” “You are nothing but a miserable sinner!” “Who do you think you are?” It is not our loving Lord who makes these and a thousand other accusations against us! Indeed not! He doesn’t want to see us fail! And he doesn’t want us to be afraid. He certainly doesn’t want us to believe all the lies the enemy tells about us!
One of the things the devil tells us is that the Lord is unfair. That is one of his oldest tricks. That is the one that got Eve in the garden of Eden. That is the one he got the unprofitable servant in the parable of the talents to believe.
Matt. 25:24-25 “He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’”
When we read the entire parable we will realize how unfounded the fears of this man were. The master did not expect the impossible of any of the servants. He did not put an impossible burden on any of them. He assessed the abilities of each of the three servants and apportioned duties accordingly. The third servant was able to do what the master assigned him. His fault was fear and fear does not excuse us, especially when we realize who we are and how much our Master wants us to succeed.
As we noted in our previous post on this subject, we are children of God. Some may be babies, but no one can remain as a baby when God makes every provision for us to grow and mature into responsible, responding, grown-up sons and daughters who step up into the “family business” who go to work as mature men and women.
God created us to be co-rulers with him over his universe. Ancient kings often made their sons co-regents whom they designated to succeed to the throne upon his death. This is the concept of Jesus being seated at the “right hand of God” and of the Father’s declaration, “This is my Son.”
Notice carefully Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 1:19-20. He first told them what God had done in raising Christ up from the dead …
In the next verses he describes the extent of his reign which he received after his exaltation …
“…far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (vs. 21-23).
But the thought concerning resurrection and reign does not end here. Follow the apostle’s thought as he described the former condition of these people from their deadness in sin through their salvation by grace through faith. Then look at what God has done and the new status of these now-children of God. He says that God by the same power by which he raised Jesus up from the dead has also …
“…raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (ch. 2:6).
What is this but the restoration and exaltation of the redeemed to their former-and-always-intended-position as co-rulers with Jesus over the whole of God’s kingdom? What this means is that we are kings! We reign together with him! You! Me! Every child of God! We are not slaves who cower in fear of a tyrannical master. We are beloved children exalted and esteemed by a loving Father!
So, what is our function as kings on the throne with Jesus? What was it in the beginning? If we are a new creation, wouldn’t our function be as it was to begin with? We were, Paul says, created for “good works.” How broad is that assignment?
Gen 1:26 “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
That involves the whole of creation. Everything God made. All creatures and all the earth. Nothing exempted. This is our business. This is our work as kings and co-regents with Christ – the one by whom all things were created.
With the world as our field and everything in it the objects of our care and concern, this is the breadth and depth of our assignment. Whenever and wherever we see the need of our touch to make the creation right – or as right as we can make it – that is where we are to apply our authority as kings in God’s new creation. Whatever sin has marred and desecrated we are to heal and restore. Our business isn’t just to exist in this world, trying to escape notice. It is to say to the powers that rule, “God reigns!”
No, our authority is not to command or expect people to bow down to us. That was the mistaken idea of Jesus’ disciples when they asked to sit on his right hand and on his left when he came into his kingdom. Our authority is the extension of Jesus’ authority. How does he rule? He rules by serving. He triumphed over evil by yielding to the worst attacks Satan could throw at him. We are in the world to be like him – to serve as he served and by that show what God’s will is for the world and what the world will be like when it is completely under his rule when the new creation is consummated.
Fear? That is a big assignment! Who wouldn’t be afraid? But look at who is sitting beside us! How can we fail when we have his help, his example, his presence and his guidance? If you are a Christian you are a king! Act like it!