I understand fear. I am afraid of heights, speed, elevators, flying, getting a tragic phone call in the middle of the night. I don’t know that I’ll ever get over some of those fears. For a while I also lived with another fear – the fear of not ever knowing if I was doing enough to have the blessings of God in my life. It was a fear that was very much alive in me and affected everything I did. Am I praying enough? Am I reading my Bible enough? Am I being good enough? Am I staying away from sin enough? Are their secret sins that I am committing that I am not even aware of? Am I serving enough? Am I giving enough? Have I forgiven everyone I am supposed to? I lived with a continual spiritual inspection and introspection. To make matters worse I thought that was the way that God wanted me to live! I thought that by asking these questions and attempting to accomplish every task would make me more pleasing to God and some how bring greater blessings to my life! While I thought I was living more “spiritual” in reality I was living in great fear.
In recent years, these fears have all come cascading down. I have come to see the reality of what Jesus Christ accomplished for me in not just forgiving me, but in making me righteous. I’m not saying I live perfectly. I still sin. I still fail. But now I know there is forgiveness and release from the pressure to have to be perfect. I am learning to not live in fear! Apparently I’m not the only one who ever struggled with this type of fear. One of the writers of the New Testament wrote to a group of people struggling with the same thing:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
What an amazing truth! What a place of freedom we are invited to because of Jesus Christ! You would think we would all go running to this wonderful place of freedom and love! Strangely, many people fear getting to the place where fear is removed!
It is a very real fear for many people:
“I can’t just let go and assume that God is pleased with me!”
“I have to keep doing the right things or He will not be happy with me!”
“We have a responsibility to do what is right! If we don’t, the judgment of God will come!”
And perhaps the most telling of all the fear statements:
“If I believe that I don’t have to do all of the “spiritual” things I do, then I might not do them!”
Is that what is driving your faith? You only do them because you have to? You do them in order to get something? You do them in fear that something bad could happen if you don’t? You do them because that is what makes God more pleased with you?
We have now discovered quite a problem. This is what lies at the heart of many Christians. They do what they do more so from fear. Where is love? Where is faith? What happened to what Jesus accomplished on the cross? What happened to already being made pleasing and righteous because of Jesus? What happened to believing that is ours by the act of faith alone?
I can ask these questions because I once lived in that place. I know that fear. I know that belief. I know that place.
I can also answer the questions as I now learn to walk in love and not fear. There is love that passes all the understanding that we possess. There is a love that is greater than my attempts at being good. There is love that showed its fullest expression while I was still living in fear and selfishness. There is a love that like a revolutionary force comes in drives away the enemy of fear. I have been rescued by that Love!