Friday, 27 April 2012
I'm realizing that I have a lot of fear in my life. It's been around for so long, and I'm so familiar with it, that I think, in a lot of ways, I've become accustomed to it and I just let it be there. Fear can be a hard thing to get around or get rid of; I mean, how do you just stop being afraid? Hard, right? It's a very basic human emotion and often, one of the strongest. You can choose not to react to it, but how do you just stop feeling it?
I'm a regular human being; just an average Joe on the street that many people wouldn't take notice of. And even if you did, I'd probably walkaway from our conversation without you thinking that I'm weird. My friends know I'm weird, but to the causal conversationalist, I'm just a normal guy. But, whether like a lot of people or unlike them, I'm afraid of a lot of things. Afraid of what people might think of me, afraid to stand out, afraid of confrontation, afraid of the future, afraid of unhappiness.
I'm also afraid of giving my life totally to God, because I won't be able to control what happens to me -- even though, ultimately, I can't control that anyway -- or how I become in that future. This is a silly reaction because I am confident in God's infinite love for me, and because of that love, I can be confident that any plans God has for me are great plans. This is what He means in 1 John 4:18, when He says, 'perfect love casts out fear...' Because of God's love, and because of our love for Him, we shouldn't fear His plans for us. Our future as a disciple of God may not be easy, but it will be alongside, and drawn nearer to, our God, whom we love. So it should always be good.
Another thing not to fear is other people. I'm terrible with confrontation. I'm not good at it. I back away when I should be standing up for myself or for my faith, and I don't argue very well. I have a little bit of a punk streak in me, but I nearly never let it out because I don't want to be confronted about it. I don't care what people think of me, and I'm not bothered by their disapproval -- as long as they are quiet about it. As someone who has had to stand up to a lot of confrontation and look it in the eyes with confidence, I should be comfortable with it by now. I should be much more confident. But I still tend to shrink away, and I still try to avoid confrontations with people. I've face confrontation for being a Christian who is open about my faith. And now, as a Christian who is bold enough to say, 'This is not enough,' I'm even more familiar with confrontation. As a gay man, I'm familiar with confrontation from 'Christian' culture. I should be used to it by now, right? Wrong. I still shy away from it.
Perfect love casts out fear. If I did not have fear, I would be a much bolder, more confident person. I would wear my own style without apology. I would be louder about my Christianity, and more so about my love for God, as I should be. Luke 12:4-12 I would be, in a word, unapologetic. And because of that, I would be more honest. People often get the wrong idea about me because I stay quiet when they're wrong. And so, because silence is acceptance, my not speaking up becomes a lie.
There is such a thing as good fear, but there's only one kind: our fear of God. This translates to respect, reverence and obedience (Revelation 14:7, Luke 12:4-5, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Psalm 19:9), the fear of an awesome and powerful God. We have no fear of punishment from Him, and so our fear is not the same as those whose fear is of the wrath of God; our fear (reverence) is the beginning of love and obedience to God (Psalm 111:10). Their fear (terror) is the beginning of death and the destruction of their souls. (Matthew 10:28)
My point? Fear no one but God. Be bold in your love for Him and do not hide it. As a disciple of the Lord, your responsibility is to no one but Him. Living for God requires sacrifice that many are not willing to make. Even those who mean well will not understand what you do, and will try to talk you out of it. (Matthew 10:16-23, 32-39) Listen only to God, and follow Him with all your heart.
Psalm 23, Psalm 27, Matthew 10:24-31
What does the fear of God look like in your life? How has fear prevented you from fully living out your Christian walk?