14 Oct “Fear vs. Fear” by Justin Dowiot, Youth Minister
What do we fear most?
For me, the answer is easy… SNAKES!!! I am absolutely terrified of them. My fear traces back to a traumatic (but somewhat comical) story from my childhood—ask me about it sometime! Since the incident, I can’t comfortably look at pictures of snakes, never mind seeing them moving on the TV! I am afraid of anything that could possibly even look like a snake; sometimes my eyes fool me and I jump from the sight of a stick in the yard or an oversized earthworm (yup, I’m that afraid of them).
My fear of snakes makes me freeze. It paralyzes me.
When I cut the grass, I am forced to go extra slow in order to keep an eye out for any of those legless, frightening, creatures. When we take the kids to the zoo, we have to take the long route around the snake room in order to avoid any chance that I might possibly see one through the open door!
My fear of snakes slows my progress. It makes me go out of my way. It prevents me from doing certain things or going some places. You might have a fear that does the same thing to you.
Maybe your fear of commitment has prevented you from participating in a new event or getting involved in relationships. Maybe your fear of public speaking has stopped you from sharing what’s really on your heart. Maybe your fear of change is forcing you to be stuck in the same place, ministering to people in the same way because “we’ve always done it this way”.
Are our fears holding us back? Do our fears of people prevent us from doing what we are called to do as Christians? How many times do we avoid opportunities to share Jesus with others because we have a fear of their differences… their disapproval… their personality… their style… their cleanliness… their addictions… their sin…?
Paul tells Timothy “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 – NLT). We’re not intended to be fearful. Our fear prevents us from what we are intended to do – Go and make disciples! (Mt. 28:19) God wants us to be bold in our love, because He wants us to be sharing His sacrifice in every opportunity. He wants us to have the discipline to work through our fears in order to actually care for the people in our lives. Whether they are strangers, acquaintances, or long standing relationships, everyone should be able to see the love of Jesus and the possibility of a transformed life!
God does not call us to fear anything, except for Himself.
So, what if we were truly God fearing? What if we had the respect and humility to REALLY put Him in charge of our lives and our church? Fearing God is not the same as our fear of spiders and snakes or commitment and public speaking. It’s living your life while allowing God and your relationship with Him to guide your decisions. It’s acknowledging that He is Lord over everything – that He is capable of all things.
Fearing God actually has the opposite result of our daily fears. If we fear God, our fear does not slow us down like my fear of snakes. It actually propels us to live greater and more impactful lives. Proverbs 19:23 says “Fear of the LORD leads to life, bringing security and protection from harm.” Our fear of God actually makes us feel more secure than we would otherwise feel. It gives us the freedom to interact with others in a way that would normally make us feel uncomfortable.
Let me ask you one last question: are we fostering our fears of the things that we encounter in our day to day life, or are we conquering what keeps us from accomplishing our calling by becoming people that sincerely fear God?