Aloha Friday Message – October 19, 2012 – A Different Fear

Someday I’d like to see this as a window decal – white against dark-tinted glass.

1242AFC101912 – A different fear

Read it online here, please.

Not long ago I wrote about The Fear of the Lord and foolishness. Here are a couple of references from that topic.

Psalm 111:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Proverbs 9:10 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

In this context, “fear” is equivalent to reverence. We’ve touched on the ideas of reverence, gratitude, and service as components of stewardship. Today, I am thinking of a different kind of fear. It is unpleasant – or it should be – and sometimes it saves our lives, while other times it fills us with dread or even heart-stopping physiological changes. It takes hold of us when we see danger or are otherwise alarmed. We are taught in the Bible to fear – that is, reverence – our God, but we are also taught in the Bible not to fear anyone or anything else. There are over 200 places in the Bible where God says, “fear not” or “be not afraid.” Take a look at just a few of those.

NIV Psalm 56:11 – in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

NIV Psalm 91:5 – You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

KJV Proverbs 3: 25-26 – Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. 26 For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

NIV Matthew 10:28 – Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

KJV Luke 12: 31 – But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

NIV John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

NIV 2 Corinthians 13:11 – Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

NIV Hebrews 13: 6 – So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Just up the page I said that fear is unpleasant – or it should be. I am thinking about the forms of so-called entertainment where we are exposed to things meant to frighten us either physical or psychologically. Physical frights are usually some mechanical monstrosity that hurtles us through space in ways that make our bodies pump adrenaline – rollercoasters, sky-diving, and other physically challenging diversions. There are also the psychological fear-inducers, most notably movies, which we love to watch because they are so suspenseful and gory. Personally, I find these films offensive; I don’t see any entertainment value in watching suffering. It does nothing for me except make me ill and sleepless. I used to enjoy some “amusement park rides,” but I think I outgrew them when the discomfort I experienced riding them lasted for weeks instead of minutes.

For some strange reason, we earthlings like to give ourselves “a good scare” once in a while. We like that feeling of danger, risk, excitement – as long as it can be resolved neatly and end in laughter. Well, if there’s a “good” scare, then there’s also a “bad” scare, and that kind we don’t like as much because it is not induced, it is not pretended, it is, rather, a genuine threat to our life. This kind of fear is mostly based on the possibility or probability of actual physical pain, damage, or even loss of life. It is the fear of war, torture, vulnerability to someone or something far more powerful than we are. It is what we feel when we see a flood approaching, hear or see an explosion, recognize the rapid advance of an enemy, or realize that our own bodies have turned against us and marched us straight off to death. It can even be those terrifying moments when we are asleep and our subconscious mind unleashes incidents and threats that paralyze us until at last we awake gasping and grasping for reality.

Lately I’ve heard a lot of fear expressed about, of all things, politics. Is that a good scare or a bad scare? That’s a hard one to call. I think it depends on why it scares you. If you feel the changes coming, regardless of how the political landscape changes, pose an actual physical threat like imminent death, (which I find hard to imagine). It’s more likely you fear some loss of status which might end “life as you know it,” but will not in fact make you dead. You most likely will suffer, if that is your disposition, and you might even suffer long and hard. Well, that is the thorny part of the covenant we have with God; we get all of his blessings along with some persecutions. See Mark 10:29-30.

Our world is a word of exaggerations, overstatement, hyperbole, embellishment, and all of those are synonyms for lies. And based on what we see in the World around us, you’d think we really enjoy lies! Look at all the exaggerated and deceptive things you can find on the Internet – from pornography to snake-oil medicine – and the same goes for new, entertainment, literature, art, dietary choices, in fact every aspect of life as an earthling has been distorted so badly that we seem to have lost our grip on the truth. Somehow we know this, but are still surprised that is it so pervasive and we’re part of it! How can this happen?

We are simply following our leader, the Prince of the Air. Remember him? He’s also called The Father of Lies, and the Ancient Dragon. Throughout all of human history, there have always been a few who openly, willingly, and zestfully follow his lead. His downfall was to try to ascend to Power in opposition to the will of God. Through all the millennia of history, he found many willing to repeat his error. From the sickening worshipers of Moloch to the atrocities of Stalin and Hitler, there have been people of consummate evil in this world who have flourished for a while and then exited leaving a nasty and bloody smudge in the line of history. But Beloved, we are surely not evil like that, are we? No, of course not! We modern-day earthlings don’t sacrifice the lives of infants for our own personal gain as worshipers of Moloch did. We 21st century humans do not allow our enemies to be tortured so we can exterminate their supporters. Humanity in this day and age no longer raises up pogroms of ethnic cleansing. Surely we do not pollute the earth, the sea, and the sky only for our personal comfort.

Beloved, we ought to be less afraid of politics and more afraid of judgment by and because of politics. Throughout history, there have been wars, crimes, persecutions, terror, and all brought to bear on fellow humans by the hands of a few evil men. Although the evil is perpetrated by a few, the effect falls on many. In this well-shrunken world, it is more likely than ever that the consequence will fall upon everyone and everything. We forget too easily that we did not create the universe, or even this world, or anything in it. We build things, invent things, craft things, but we do not create things. We do not even create evil; we merely cooperate with it from time to time. Hopefully these times are few and far between and we are, instead, cooperating with good. It is not the times we should fear, however. Whatever is constrained by time is to be neither a source nor outcome of fear. The worst that can happen is we die a horrible, painful, and gruesome death – like Jesus did. Instead it is better for us to die to fear and to live in Christ.

Be not afraid, I go before you always. Come. Follow me, and I will give you rest.” Please go back to the top of the page and reread those eight passages about not being afraid. I am not saying we should expectantly wait in peaceful hope for martyrdom. I am saying, however, that if that time ever comes when that is our future, we will be able to accept it with the same equanimity as the Apostles and Saints who endured all not because they lost hope, but because in hope they found their endurance. Don’t be afraid of politics. Don’t be afraid of anything worldly. God will allow the World to experience the consequences of its apostasies and atrocities, and some of that will fall on us. Those who are only Worldly will suffer more than any and then will go on to suffer longer than any. Those who are other than Worldly will suffer – some greatly – but then will go on to a complete lack of suffering as they live in eternal bliss.

Blessed be God forever in his Angels and in his Saints. A special shout-out to all the Pilgrims on the road this week to the Holy Land, or Rome, or Spain, or Africa – wherever God leads them. Our prayers go with you!

Pray for our leaders, Beloved. If our future must be in their hands, pray that they are in God’s hands.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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