Good Fear / Bad Fear


 

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Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

 

December 8, 2018

Sometimes we wonder why the world is in such a chaotic mess.

I believe it’s because in general, we pursue man’s ways and thoughts, and that path will never reach to the heights that God has in mind for us. We wallow in our own “intelligence”, with vast dreams of utopia and accomplishment. We do not realize how little we know in our own strength and understanding.

I think it’s easy to slip into that mode of thinking, and it requires diligence and prayer to avoid it. God does not think like we do, no matter how much we wish He did. God tells us that His thoughts are not our thoughts.

 

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Probably most fear-based living and decisions are related to thinking in the ways of man. If we believe what we say we believe about God, that He is sovereign, that He rules over all, and that He loves us deeply, why would we live a fear-based life?

Any of us can encounter a situation which results in a response of fear. I believe that is built into us, as a way of protection and help in times of emergency.

What I mean is living regularly in fear. Some folks seem to be fear-based in just about everything they do and say. From my observation, it is a wretched way to live.

  • What if this?
  • What if that?
  • What if something else?

OK, I’ll play along: what if?

  • What if you really are in charge of your life and are responsible for everything that happens?
  • What if God will ignore you?
  • What if He might let you down?

I guess then you do have to take everything into your own hands and take charge of the matter. Who else will?

 

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Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

 

If you really believe you are fully in charge of your life and all the responsibility lies on your shoulders for its outcome, then I guess you should be afraid. I don’t blame you for living in fear. You have taken a role too big for you.

It puzzles me to see people live from a basis of fear–especially those who claim they have faith in God. This is a debilitating way to live. The impression is that such folks believe they have to control it all and make sure nothing bad happens.

We are not built for that level of responsibility. We are not in charge of the world—not even our little space in the world. To respond on a regular basis in near-panic reveals, I believe, inability or unwillingness to surrender everything to the God of the Universe.

He isn’t quite up to the task, so we have to take over the room.

Did you know this way of thinking is offensive to God?

But He turned and told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.”

Matthew 16:23

In this account, thinking about the things of man and not the things of God caused Peter to be an offense to Jesus. This had to do with Jesus’ path to crucifixion, but the sober warning is that we can offend our Lord by thinking on the things of man in relation to what we do and how we go about our lives. There is a broad application.

God says His ways are higher than our ways. Another way to say this is that God’s ways of thinking are high; humankind’s ways are low.

Our pride offends the Almighty and hinders a flourishing life.

It’s ironic that if we surrender our pride and mankind’s thoughts, fear will dissipate. You’d think that if we believe we are in charge, running the world, that fear would not be a factor. After all, “I’ve got this.”

 

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The opposite is true. The more we think it all depends on us, the more we have to worry about everything that might go wrong. None of us in infallibly dependable. Our resources have limits.

People surrendered to God don’t have such a burden. This is why it puzzles me when people who claim faith in God express fearfulness on a regular basis.

Who is actually in charge? You have to decide what you believe about that.

There is a healthy fear: the fear of the Lord. When you have that embedded in your life, other fears lose their power.

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