Fear Doesn't Disappear, It Is Replaced
Everyone has to deal with fear about something at some point in their lives. Yes, there are those people out there that are super talented, highly connected and powerful, and gifted with all kinds of resources; and it can seem that they fear nothing. But if you dig long enough and deep enough, Eureka!, you will strike fear. The source and cause of the fear is irrelevant at this point in this discussion. I simply want to think about how it is dealt with. How do people face fear, and how can they become fearless?
Here is my answer. People don’t become fearless, they become filled with a greater fear. Something else possesses them in a greater and deeper way, and this takes the controls to move them to action. To be sure, this “something else” can be carnal, worldly things. There was a TV show called Fear Factor that proved to us all that people will overcome fears when the dollar signs are big enough. These people feared losing the life that all that money could bring and so they bathed in the cockroaches. But we are Christians. What should we be possessed by that overcomes fear with a greater fear?
There are only two options, which actually merge into one. These two options are: the fear of God and love for people. The fear of God recognizes that God is life, God is awesome in power, God is the source of all good, God is the source of all justice. This is not a fear that runs away from God but runs to God. This fear causes one to tremble before God because he is so beautiful and necessary. We are rescued from the fear of man by the fear of God for what can man do to us? “If God is for us who can be against us? Man can kill the body, but God can throw body and soul into hell. Fear God. Trust God. Obey God. When people have a large view of God that fills the whole picture of their mind, and rightfully so, then man’s ragings and fumings are not at all compelling.
The other feature I mentioned is love for people. 1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out our fear. Because people are made in the image of God, they have an eternal significance. We must be compelled by that. God himself is compelled by it, because it is through these human creatures, made in the image of God, that God is going to attain for himself greatest glory. We see this compelling reason come out even in unbelievers. We see it when the mother runs into a burning building to save her children or when a soldier lays down his life to save another soldier. This is right and good, but in unbelievers it is still incomplete. It is incomplete because it is not done in submission to God or out of love for Him, but nonetheless we see the point established. Love, even incomplete love, replaces fear and moves us to action.
Why then Christian do you have still have fear? Because you are looking in the mirror too much. You are concerned with reputation and possessions and your plans and dreams in idolatrous ways. You simple don’t fear God or love people enough yet. You haven’t seen God as glorious and powerful and able to do all that you need yet. You haven’t seen the depth of significance of people enough yet.
So, what must you do? You must repent. Your own sinful lusts have dragged you into a pit of self-love, and as James 1:14-15 tells us, this is where death is born. You need to confess that sinful self-love has paralyzed you in fear and kept you from doing what God wants you to do. But is that all? No. As I said, fear must be replaced. Repentance gets you ready for the next step, which is the replacing task. You now must get a grand vision of God and there is only one way to do that: immerse yourself in God’s Word. Get story after story and teaching after teaching about God’s delivering power and ability to work all things for your good. You must also grow in love; you must understand love from the Scripture and start practicing on the people around you. There will probably be other specifics you will want to learn about your fearful thing, and preparation is simply a wise course of action. So put on repentance, grow in the fear of God and love for people, and make preparations for stepping out in faith.
You don’t grow out of fear, you grow into maturity. You don’t wait for fear to walk out, you throw fear out on its ear by letting fear of God and love for people take its place.
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