This one goes out to all those who are scared
FEAR! A small word with huge implications. I was wondering the other day if fear is ever a good thing for a believer. I decided there is only one fear in the Bible that is acceptable and in deed necessary in life and that is the fear of the Lord. It’s a bizarre notion to us in western Christianity because we only talk about the God who should be loved rather than the God who should be feared. Yet there are some benefits to fearing God. Check out this Psalm (128:1-4)
Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord.
Who wants a happy life? Who wants a fruitful life? Who wants a prosperous life? Who wants a dynamic marriage? Who wants productive kids? Who wants to be blessed? If you answer these questions like me with a resounding ‘YES PLEASE’ then the instruction is clear, they flow from an appropriate fear of the Lord. WHAT?!? How on earth can that be possible? Well we have to understand what fear means from the Bible’s point of view. Whilst it does in a sense mean to be afraid it is more to do with revering or to hold in high honour. Which I guess relates to fear as we understand it. What we fear, we ultimately revere and hold in high honour. Whilst this may seem harsh or even controversial, I believe it to be true – what you fear, you ultimately worship. Jesus says it more brutal than I, “Don’t fear ( or revere) those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear (or revere) only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28. Our sensitive ears can hardly receive the profound truth that exists in this verse and ones like it, yet it’s true all the same and we know that whilst truth has the power to offend, it also has the power to free (John 8:32). In other words, don’t waste your time fearing people, instead fear the One who is far more powerful. Don’t waste your time fearing sickness that can affect your physical body, instead fear God who has power both over your body and soul. This is why Solomon tells us, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…’ (Proverbs 9:10) What does this mean? Well, I believe that when you truly fear (or honour) the Lord you begin to lose your fear (or honour) for everything else. That’s where real life is found and where real life is lived.
Recently, one of my children has been crippled by an irrational fear. Now of course, fear never feels irrational to the one who fears, yet as a father, it has been exhausting none the less. I have sought to reason with him and explain that he need not waste his time with such concern. However, it seems to me that the worry that he carries for his fear is greater than his trust of what I am saying. (We have recently turned a corner in this by printing off bible verses and sticking them to the wall by his bed for him to read and memorise. This has helped him massively. The principle = the truth of the Word conquers the fear of the world.) I do wonder however, how often we are like this before God. If fearing God is the beginning of wisdom all other fear must be irrational to God. Our fears speak to our trust (or lack of) in God. In fact John tells us the one who fears has not been made perfect in love as perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).
I think this is an extremely topical matter for the days in which we live. Fear is a hidden and silent thief of peace and joy that works in the shadows. Huge news corporations make their billions by trading off of fear. Quite simply, fear sells! The more they can get you feeding on their every word the more money they make. Here’s a cheesy encouragement – trade your daily telegraph for your daily Word. Peace and prosperity isn’t found in the pages of newspapers written by uninspired authors motivated by finances, it is found in the pages of the Bible written by authors inspired by the Holy Spirit motivated by faith.
This is not to say we are not living in scary times with the apparent reality of climate change, the spread of the coronavirus, the increase of poverty and famine, the unpredictable outcomes in politics etc but even in the midst of all of these things fear is a choice. I love the Psalms because within them we find encouragement that has the power to minister to our very soul. The Psalms are a collection of songs and poetry and I imagine David, the writer of Psalm 23 would preface his song in this way – ‘This one goes out to all those who are scared….’ Check our the Psalm for yourself but ultimately I would suggest it is the anthem we should be singing in this hour. In this Psalm we read these lyrics – ‘
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…’
I love how David doesn’t deny the reality of walking through difficulty and darkness but instead acknowledges it but at the same times says he will not fear. Almost like he’s suggesting he is choosing to not fear. Recently, I have found myself saying to my son over and over that faith is not proven in the absence of scary things, it is finding courage in the presence of them. Where do we find courage? Knowing that God is with us and He is for us! One of the verses we have printed and placed on the wall by my son’s bed says this – ‘The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.’ Proverbs 28:1.
We don’t run away like the world. We don’t panic or worry like people who don’t know God. We don’t fear the darkest valley. We’re not even scared of death. Why? Because we have nothing to fear but God.
There is a threat even greater than the Coronavirus and that is the fear that might occupy your mind and stop you from truly living. All that said, I’m obviously not advocating recklessness. Our life is a gift from God and so we should take care of ourselves and each other by being wise and mindful of the hygiene guidelines that the government are encouraging. Even as a church we are taking necessary precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe as per other emails you have received from us. However, caution is not the same as fear. Caution keeps you from harm, fear keeps you from living.
So as a church we are open for business as usual and if for whatever reason public spaces become temporarily unavailable, as an INNOVATIVE church we will find other creative ways to do church together. In the meantime, alongside the leadership, we have a team of intercessors praying for protection over the church particularly those who are most vulnerable. WE WILL NOT FEAR THE CORONAVIRUS, WE WILL NOT REVERE IT OR HONOUR IT. We will only fear the Lord.
I believe the series’ we are now in at our Poole and Ferndown campus are extremely topical: Waymaker (Poole Campus) and Resilience (Ferndown Campus). Get inviting your loved ones so that they can can come and hear words of life.