In the not too distant past, I would see bumper stickers, window stickers, T-shirts and more with the phrase “Fear This.” I was never quite sure what that meant. On some vehicles with the window sticker, I imagined they were wanting me to fear the power under the hood. On those who wore the phrase I expected I was to fear them. Like they could do some extreme bodily harm to me or others if riled.
Then, someone from the South I’m sure, came up with a sticker that said “Ain’t Skeered.” That seemed to take the steam out of the other one and it gradually disappeared.
Fear is a truly a mystery. We fear things that often may not or will not come to pass. We fear actual things like spiders and bugs. We fear situations like height or water or tight places. People call them “phobias”, which is a derivative of the Greek word “phobos.”
As I am reading through John’s Gospel, I am at chapter 18, the place where Jesus begins his execution process. With the arrest of Christ, before the High Priest, we read about Peter’s denial of Christ, something that Jesus had told Peter about.
There is no doubt in my mind that Peter did what he did because of fear. He had no idea what was to happen but he sensed it was not going to be good and he feared being discovered, he feared for his life.
Fear (phobos) is challenging concept in the New Testament. A quick search of the word reveals some engaging uses.
- When Jesus heals a mother’s son, the people respond with great “fear” and realize a “the great Prophet” is among them (Luke 7:16)
- When Jesus walks on the water the disciples respond in “fear” (Matthew 14:26)
- Paul says to the Philippians to “work out” their salvation with “fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
- John tells us that complete love, perfect love, casts out “all fear.” (1John 4:18)
Fear handicaps us. In many regards it prevents us from walking by faith, because what we see or imagine in front of us scares us. It intimidates us. It forces our eyes of the Christ onto the circumstances.
I have a great many fears in my life right now. At times my heart seems like it is about to burst. My eyes well up at the slightest prick from those fears. One minute my mouth says I trust God in what He is doing, the next minute, I find clouds of doubt and despair engulfing my heart and mind. At times I feel the weight is so strong I cannot move. I am afraid to move.
How can we walk by faith when we are shackled by fear? Naturally the answer is “we cannot.” One element must be dominate.
Like a child standing on the edge of the dock with a waiting father, arms wide open, standing in the water saying, “jump!” we must decide. Do we jump or do we stand trembling on the dock?
A CHILD’S GAME
A cheap imitation of some cosmic imagination
Formless as clay on the potter’s wheel
God can be a manager of things
Or a molder of persons
Hanging limp on the strings of the puppeteer
Stretched firm on the concert violin
God can either play with us
Or play us
What say you magnificent mind
What say you humble heart
God won’t wait long
You must decide
This is no child’s game
There is no place to hide