From the Desk of the Associate: The Spirit of Fear

We live in a day of fear. We all know it. We all experience it. I am not talking about acute fear like when you almost step on a snake, or when you see your toddler fall in a pool, or when you have to slam on your brakes to avoid an accident. All these things are what we call “healthy fear”, and it helps us react quickly and properly to an immediate danger. No, the sort of fear I am talking about is a fear of a potential future that is very unpleasant.

The kind of fear that is permeating the culture around us, and is being pushed by our media and politicians, is basically this kind of fear. There is a virus that has a high likelihood of killing you or someone you love; therefore, you must submit to all sorts of measures that we (the government) could never get you to submit to if you were not terrified. This fear has led people, who would have been completely normal and reasonable just two short years ago and changed them into people who fear to be in public, people who fear their neighbors, and people who fear that their death from the virus is imminent. I expect many of the people who read this article will agree with me that the response of these people has been largely overblown. To be clear, I know that this virus has killed a large number of people, but I also believe that the response and the fear that has been triggered has largely outpaced the actual danger of this pandemic to the average person…

You see, many of you reading this little blog post probably look at the double and triple maskers and scorn and roll your eyes at their level of fear. You can correctly see that these people have succumbed to the message of the mainstream media and politicians. What you cannot see as clearly is the spirit of fear that has snuck its way into your own heart and mind. Many on the right (from which I am writing) see that the left has overblown this pandemic in many ways to push their agenda. What they miss is that they themselves are driven and controlled by a different fear. For instance, I believe that most conservative Christians are influenced by the same fear that drives me…The fear of government overreach, the fear that churches will be persecuted, the fear that Critical Race Theory and the radical sexual agenda will be crammed down on society and on our children, and the fear that our country will be lost. Now from my point of view, all of these fears are completely legitimate. In fact, I myself struggle with thoughts of all of these things, but I think when we look around us and identify all the challenges and dangers that confront us, I think that our fear has blinded us to the response that God would desire from us.

Christian, in these times of fear and doubt, remember, God has not called us to spend our life in comfort and luxury. I think in America we have taken for granted that we have basic human comforts and freedoms that have not been the norm for God’s people for the vast majority of history. So much of the theology in the American church is so weak and shallow because it has not been tested in the fire of persecution. Only in America could the idea be born that “God wants you to have your best life now.” Or that “we are David, and our boss is Goliath and God will give us victory to get that big promotion.” And only in America could it be said that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” means that I can win this football game. By the way, that verse was about Paul being able to withstand suffering through Christ who strengthens him, not winning a football game!

Christian, you have forgotten in these times of fear and doubt that God gave us a spirit “not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Just for context, when Paul wrote this, he was in prison and about to be executed. Over and over again God commands his people not to fear. Is this because he promises that there is never any danger or discomfort? No, it’s because that for the Christian, “all things work together for good.” Bad things work together for good. Persecution works together for good. Covid-19 works together for good. Critical Race Theory works together for good. Cancer works together for good. Why? Because all of these things that the Evil One means for bad, God twists them around and turns them for good. How frustrating it must be for Satan to do all he does only for God to thwart his plans!

Christian, so what should our response be to God’s command not to fear, and his promise to turn all things to good for those who belong to him? Read Deuteronomy 4. Moses was reiterating God’s law and promises to the people before they faced the biggest challenge of their lives. He says this in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Only take care and keep your soul diligently, lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.” We are commanded to take care that we not forget God’s Word or cease to believe it. How do we do that? We keep reading it and studying it with a heart of belief so that we constantly remember to do it. What else should we do? Look at the second part of verse 9, “Make them known to your children and your children’s children…” The world and the Evil One are not neglecting to teach our children and grandchildren. Christian, how can you neglect to actively teach and remind your young people about the commands and the goodness of God? How about instead of wringing your hands and bemoaning the fact that our children are going to face hard times and suffering, we begin to intentionally teach, model, and equip them to live out their faith in the midst of a lost and dying generation. And lastly, how about we get down on our knees and lift these fears to our Father in Heaven who has promised to walk through the floods and the fires with us…

Christian, stop pointing to the people who are controlled by the spirit of fear of this pandemic without realizing that you too are being influenced and controlled (often times) by your own spirit of fear. Start sowing to the Holy Spirit and walking in his power by prayer, and by the Word, and by his Church. I will leave you with this thought from Hebrews 10:23-25 as we face these dark days in our nation, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

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