From Fear to Fear

Christianity is under attack. Of this there can be no doubt. While some Christians remain oblivious to this or somehow believe they are immune to its effects, the growing reality in the world and in this country warns of dark days ahead for all those who seek to be true to the cause of Christ. The very real threat of direct attacks that lie an ocean away, seen in the kidnappings perpetrated by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, the bombings directed against those professing a faith in Christ in Egypt, and the persecution perpetrated by ISIS in Syria may seem limited and unrelated by some, but they reveal a pattern that cannot be ignored. Furthermore, the subtle path Satan took for decades, stripping morality and Christian values from the cultural conscience and thereby slowing but surely pushing Christianity into the background through both court decisions and legislation, has now evolved into an open advocacy for immorality and secular humanism and an open hostility toward morality and Christian values and expression. But in this we are not alone. Others have gone through similar situations throughout the centuries. Even David, long ago, felt the pain of seeing wickedness seemingly triumph, and his response offers perspective and hope.

In his reflection recorded in the sixty-fourth psalm, David found himself thrust outside of his kingdom by the plotting of his own son, Absalom. However, David accepted this with dignity despite the sense of fear that loomed throughout it all. Instead of letting his fear control him, he turned to God in faith and prayed for deliverance and safety in the midst of the storm (Psa. 64:1-2). David had to listen to personal attacks, both verbal and physical, as the forces with Absalom took advantage of their newfound power to express their wickedness (Psa. 64:3-4). How sad that such brazenness so often accompanies evil when it comes to power (Psa. 64:5-6). Regardless, God’s people can have assurance that God Himself will address the evil in a manner so sudden that no one will expect it (Psa. 64:7). On His own timetable He will bring them down (Psa. 64:8), so that while they sought to have men fear them while they feared no one, in the end, men will come to fear God (Psa. 64:9).

This must be our confidence too. We may not know how or when God will bring down those who promote wickedness from an evil heart, but we can know with certainty that He will. They may take the country down with them, but they will fall from their lofty sense of self-importance, and the eternal kingdom of God will still stand (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 16:18-19). Therefore, “The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and trust in Him. And all the upright in heart shall glory” (Psa. 64:10). The cause of Christ may not now be popular, morality may not be appreciated, and persecution may be our plight, but the rejection of the world does not define us. In fact, more than ever, our faith must speak from a heart dedicated more than ever to the truth and to our God. There may be many reasons to fear in the upcoming years, but our fear of God should trump them all.


No Fear

Fear has become a mainstay of political propaganda. According to a wide array of websites, the election of the candidate they oppose would lead to consequences so severe and catastrophic that the very fabric of society and life itself might hang in the balance. The hyperbole used by the candidates and political parties themselves has made fear-mongering an art form—a grotesque, misshapen, perverted form of art. As the chasm between world-views deepens, the clashing rhetoric of these world-views has created an all-too-real fear among the people who listen. In a way, this makes sense. Those who came of age during the threat of nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States rarely fell into a constant state of fear; it was instead a kind of steady tension. However, the rise of terrorism as a constant threat in the new millennium has raised a very different prospect. People are uneasy in general because so much of the world they knew appears under threat. They feel threatened by the influx of immigrants from places known to harbor terrorists. They feel threatened by the upheaval of social mores foisted upon them by elitist judges ruling from afar with a disdain for both morality and history but with great confidence in the power of a black robe. They feel threatened by the economic changes created by an unbalanced playing field in the workplace and the monetary policies of nations. They feel threatened by the skyrocketing cost of healthcare along with its retreating coverage. People carry all of these fears with them constantly in addition to the regular challenges of daily life.

Fear has become natural to us. But that is all the more reason to turn to the comforting words of the psalms and to gain perspective, for in them we are reminded that “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1), and that this alone is the reason not to fear—no matter what (Psa. 46:2-3). God does not promise to remove all trouble. He does not promise to relieve all our pain. He does not promise there will be no trials. He promises something more important than these things. He promises He will be with us (Psa. 46:7). All that man does poses no threat to Him (Psa. 46:8-9), and that is why, when we have Him with us, we need not fear.

Regardless of who is in power in this country or any other, the LORD is God, and that is what really matters. When a terrorist strikes, the LORD is still in heaven. When the Supreme Court issues a ruling, God has still spoken. When tragedy strikes, God is still love. Therefore, rather than allowing the challenges and heartaches of life to let fear enter your heart, fill it with faith instead. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psa. 46:10). “The LORD of hosts is with us” (Psa. 46:11a), but we must first determine to be with Him.

A Blessed Nation

The blessings of being God’s people is something that Christians sometimes forget in the hustle and bustle of daily life. We get caught up in the day to day grind of school or work (and sometimes both) and then come home to give our time over to various forms of digital entertainment before collapsing for the night and beginning the cycle again in the morning. This only amplifies the importance of setting aside time to gather with the saints to study the Bible and worship God. Unfortunately, we can make the sad mistake of bringing the attitude developed throughout the week into the assembly when we really ought to bring the attitude we develop in the assembly into the rest of our week.

Meditating on the thirty-third psalm provides us an opportunity to refresh our perspective and renew ourselves spiritually. It reminds us of why we became God’s people in the first place. It begins emphasizing how the joy we have available in life by living for God should lead us to worship and praise the LORD even more (Psa. 33:1-3). This connection often goes unnoticed as life runs by us at the speed of the world. However, one only need consider the misery and despair that the ungodly suffer and feel—often without reason—because they lack the perspective of righteousness. Instead, we can trust God’s word to provide a valuable perspective to guide us through life that offers peace even in the midst of trial (Psa. 33:4-5). Viewing the simple beauties of creation reminds us not only of God’s glory and greatness but also of how much can be accomplished by His word (Psa. 33:6-9). Thus we can appreciate, as others cannot, the value of God’s guidance through all the storms of life (Psa. 33:10-11). Truly then does the psalm speak, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance” (Psa. 33:12). Being God’s people—in any generation—offers blessings beyond compare. He knows us all (Psa. 33:13-15), but He will deliver those who reverence Him (Psa. 33:16-19). This powerful promise, though, has meaning only so far as our faith extends and accepts all that He has said and done.

How then should God’s people respond to such majestic promises? God’s faithfulness should help us be patient, because we are confident He will do exactly as He has promised (Psa. 33:20). God’s blessings should bring joy to our lives that others cannot even comprehend because of their transcendent nature (Psa. 33:21). All that God has said and done should make us the most hopeful people on earth, for we have more to look forward to in one day in Christ than the world can expect in a lifetime (Psa. 33:22). Truly it is a blessing to be part of God’s people. Truly it is a blessing to be a Christian, God’s child, and a member of the Lord’s church! “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

Do You Think You Will Escape?

Practically overnight, the Persian kingdom had turned against one group of its subjects based on their religious character. Through a combination of the malice of some and the obtuseness of another, the law itself placed Jews in jeopardy. Mordecai’s reaction began with a combination of sadness and outrage (Est. 4:1-2)—understandably so—and he was soon joined by his fellow Jews throughout the country (Est. 4:3). Esther, who remained ignorant of Haman’s evil designs, attempted to comfort Mordecai, but he refused any comfort. To the contrary, he called on Esther to do something about it since she was the only one in a position to do so (Esth. 4:4-9). Esther replied honestly to his request by citing a different law, that anyone who enters the court of the king uninvited places his life in jeopardy (Est. 4:10-12). Mordecai’s rejoinder was simple and to the point: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:13-14). Esther’s concern for her own safety within the palace because of one law kept her from truly feeling the danger posed to all Jews by another law.

For decades now Christians in the United States have witnessed their government acting in increasingly hostile ways toward the Bible and morality. Whereas in its infancy the movement slowly worked to push God out of the public square, and then promoted the doctrine of moral equivalence through the religiously accepted Trojan Horse of pluralism, in its arrogance and zeal its adherents have now stepped into sufficient power to begin dictating terms to God’s people that affect some people’s jobs and everyday life. The next few steps for American paganism would naturally include heavy fines for refusing homosexuals the use of the church building for various purposes, the arrest of preachers for condemning immoral behavior such as homosexuality under some vague hate-crime statute, and the removal of tax-exempt status from churches who refuse the new code of morality revealed by the priests of paganism residing in Washington, D.C. If you think I am unreasonable or paranoid, I would submit to you that in the past you probably would have denied we would ever be in the position we are today. But we are here. And, like Esther, it is time for people to recognize the problem for the attack that it is.

No Christian can afford to sit this one out. You will not escape. Your choices are between selling your soul or taking a stand. There is no middle ground. Therefore, it is time for Christians to rise to the occasion and declare in heart, “if I perish, I perish!” (Est. 4:16). Several years ago, a number of younger people insisted that Christians should avoid moral questions when it came to politics. We have now seen what happens when you do. When you fail to emphasize the importance of morality in society and in government, you will end up with immorality in society and in government. Now, while it may be true that people standing up for God could not have made enough of a difference to prevent this entirely, it is certainly true that God knows who stood up for Him and who just stepped aside. Which will you be?

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