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Friday, July 1, 2011

Afraid of the Wrong Things

I get emails warning of the immanent collapse of the economy. I am supposed to be afraid and run to whatever stock or commodity being promoted so that I can "weather the upcoming economic storm." Others are declaring that the unrest in the Middle East will cause a world wide revolt which could start World War III. I am supposed to be afraid that nuclear war will end the existence of humanity. Some people are saying that global warming is causing climate change which will raise sea levels, change weather patterns, cause catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and great fluctuations in global temperatures. They are saying I should be so afraid that I stop using my car for anything. (I already ride a bicycle to work.)

A majority of news media, economists and science nerds are telling me that I should be afraid everyday of my life about something that might happen. That is not what the Bible says. It says that I should not be afraid of the things in this world but I should be afraid of being in the hands of a Living God.

Jesus said, " Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:31-34 (ESV)

Paul wrote, " do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

Fear of the things in this world reveals a lack of the understanding of the sovereignty of God. There is nothing that can come into our lives without God's knowledge. There is, therefore, a purpose for each thing that is allowed to enter. God did not slip and let things fall out of His hands. He also does not cause every bad thing that happens. He uses natural events and even human sin to bring His people to Himself. He does so just as He did with Pharoah when bringing His people out of Egypt. Pharoah may have appeared to have thwarted God's will for a time but he was actually being used to bring the people to the Promised Land. It is easy for us to look back on those events and see God at work but it was difficult for those people living at that time to see it. It appeared that Pharoah was a formidable foe for God when he was merely someone who was bringing resolve to God's people to leave Egypt. Pharoah could do no more than God allowed him.

Thus, our own fears should be abated with this knowledge. God is still in control of all things. We should take precautions for things that can hurt us but we should never fear them because God will always be available to bring us through whatever we face when we walk with Him.

However, that doesn't eliminate the presence or the actual need for a measure of fear. Our fear should not be based on the circumstances of world but on the condition of our hearts. We should be prepared for judgement even though we are saved from the burning fires of hell. We should not take our salvation capriciously as if we can do anything we want because our salvation is secure and there is nothing that God can do to punish us. We should understand that heaven will be full of justice. Each one shall receive what he or she has "earned" in this world.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV)

Our fear should not be in a God who may act without regard to justice but in Him who always acts in justice. In other words, we should be afraid of our own guilt committed as those who continue to sin after coming to know Christ. It will not remove us from salvation but it will place us in the hands of a just God.

This is legitimate fear. It is the other side of my love for God. I do not want to disappoint my God because I love Him. I have a healthy fear of God because He is living and just. He cannot simply wink at my continued sin.

I do not view this as any sense of eternal punishment but it is still punishment no matter how brief when considering eternity. Therefore, I watch the way that I live. I seek to keep myself in a right standing before Him. I know that I will not be perfect but I devote my heart to Him. It keeps me from conscious sin and warns me of  many of the things I would do unconsciously.

Honestly, I do not want to be guilty and in the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 10:31 (ESV) 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

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