Fighting Fear with Fear


Russ Burt

 

I didn’t grow up going to summer camps, Vacation Bible Schools, or judgment houses. I never had a church program incorporate the “fear of God” into my life. I had something much worse.

I was raised by a strong mom. There wasn’t a person in my hometown who didn’t know when my curfew was. My mom would even call my friends if we were missing. I feared her, but it wasn’t the type of fear that would make me hide and feel like she wasn’t approachable. It was actually the opposite. I knew that my mom would do anything she could for me and that she loved me more than herself. It did impact me socially though. Before my friends would go out to do something, they would always tell me to stay home in order to keep them from having to answer a call.

It seems like the Christian consensus right now of cultural engagement is overwhelmed by fear. Seeing the rapid shifts in the culture naturally makes one feel a little uneasy, especially if the previous culture seemed to be friendly. Some would see this fear of the culture as a problem to be solved. This has convinced certain Christians to act far from the name they claim, either by adjusting the assertions of the gospel in order to appease ears or retreating back within the walls of the church while screaming at those who differ from us. Both of those are to surrender the gospel, and replace it with a prosperity gospel of personal comfort- a gospel the rich young ruler (and the rest of us) would’ve embraced with ease.

Fear is encompassing. When used by the devil, it can be downright devastating. Every person fears something. We are designed to. Yes, the Bible is full of the “have no fear” quotes. But every single one of those quotes implies having a fear of God that casts out all earthly fears. Godly fear and worldly fear are two different things. When Peter says, “If you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,” (1 Peter 1:17) he immediately follows with, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1:18-19).

The Kingdom frees us from fear by teaching us who and how to fear (Matthew 10:26-33). But it does more than that, it teaches us what fear really is. Jesus is coming with a sword to judge the living and the dead (Revelation 19:11-16, 20:11-15). That should cause us to be fearful, but only fearful of God.

But is should also cause us to be brave (Revelation 21:22-22:6). Not fearing the culture may result in us getting thrown into jail while we sing songs praying that an earthquake frees us, it may exile us to an island to where we will see Christ more kingly than ever, and it may marginalize us from the community to the point where we are nothing more than a voice in the wilderness crying out, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” But even if that happens to us, we still are a voice shouting, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Let’s embrace the fear of God and use it to demolish the fear of culture. Let’s use it to engage those who may not see the future as we see it- atleast for now. And let’s testify of the world’s coming curfew, even if everyone else wants us to leave because they hope it will keep them from having to answer a call to come home.