Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fear

Franklin Roosevelt famously said, "...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," as he tried to encourage the American people to see the future as full of possibilities rather than full of terrible, fearful things. Not as famously, he also stated that the "common difficulties" concerned "only material things." I think what Roosevelt was saying that the economic problems in the country at the time were not the most important thing, that there was something greater. That something was the spirit of the American people to pull together to do what needed to be done, including defeating the greatest worldwide threat the world had seen.

Centuries before, Jesus said to his followers, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." He could easily have also said that difficulties they would face are not the important thing, that they paled in comparison to the kingdom. For at least a few hundred years, Jesus' followers went about their day-to-day fearlessly; facing rejection, misunderstanding, persecution, torture, and death. They were able to do so because they had confidence that the kingdom had been give to them, that they were subjects of the King of Kings, and that everything he had was theirs. They knew that absolutely nothing could separate them from their Father's love. These early Christians also could live fearlessly because they knew that the sufferings they did endure somehow were what the King used to bring kingdom on earth as in heaven. As Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."

Today, I look around and see a group that is fearful. All it takes is some time spent on social media to see the fear that controls a great deal of what people say and do. Whether it's fear of a certain political party taking away freedoms, fear of the other side waging a war on Christians, or fear of a certain group coming and taking away jobs or our lives. This fear can lead to saying and doing things that hurt others, ruin relationships, and cause the name of Christ to be slandered. We can easily tend toward fear in our day-to-day as well. We fear that disease will strike us or those we love. We fear that we may lose friends. We fear that we can't do our jobs well. We fear that we simply aren't good enough, that eventually people will see through our charade and reject us.  This fear drives us to perfectionism, to overwork, to self medication. We hide behind masks because we fear that others will reject us if they learn the real us. Sometimes we fear facing ourselves.

There is much that can make us fearful. But, as FDR said, those are only material things. Those are things that are inconsequential compared to the kingdom. Compared to the great inheritance that is ours, all of the things of this earth are nothing. Compared to the life that we have been given, the life we fear losing is nothing. Because Jesus died and was raised, the new creation has begun. We are citizens of a kingdom that will never be defeated, that will never pass away. The King has come! We don't always see his reign in this life, although we do catch glimpses now and then, but he is in control. All the stuff of life that hits us, all the things that our enemy throws at us has already been overcome. We need to live from that reality. Will we still experience bad, even terrible things? Yes we will. But, those things can not wrench us out of our Father's hands. They can not ultimately harm us because our destiny is settled. It's hard, I know. I have to remind myself constantly that the things of this world are not the kingdom. Let us all continually remind each other of who we are and whose we are, and of the glory that will be revealed in us when the King finally comes to sett all things right.

Fear not, because your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.        

2 comments:

KC Bob said...

"We are citizens of a kingdom that will never be defeated, that will never pass away."

Amen. Great thought Fred.

Fred Shope said...

Thanks Bob.

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