A List of things that truly scare me:
I’m going to talk about fear today. another Big Monster. and we want to get this one out in the open because lets be honest. every one of us has things that scare us. things that cause us fear. and don’t get me wrong. There are fears that are legitimate. fear is one of the ways that our body’s tell us that there is potential danger to us, and there are things that should scare us.like the barking dog when you’re walking down the sidewalk or the car that whizes by us on the highway cutting us off, or the stranger that talks to you in the bus and makes you feel uncomfortable.
There are someways where fear can be a good, even life saving thing. Fear has actual psychological and physiological effects on the the body and mind. It heightens your senses, quickens your reflexes and can actually make you physically stronger. fear pumps chemicals into your bloodstream that make your heart beat faster pumping extra oxygen into your body. its what they call the fight or flight.
i remember once when Jolene was pregnant with Isaac.... as a first time father I was always watching out for her...
So fear can literally save your life in some case… but can you imagine living your whole life in this state? many people don’t have to imagine it. they do. and when you live your life in a constant state of fear we call it stress. and stress instead of life saving can be debilitating and life threatening. Stress causes us to make mistakes… it dulls our senses, and fatigues us… many of you have felt this before, or even now.
This kinds of fear is a monster. and it’s a monster that has been constructed, I believe by the way our society works.
we live in a world that is all about Me don’t we? We live in a word that says, me first, me only. a world that says what I want, what I feel, what I believe is more important than anything else.
Now if I was that kind of preacher I would bemoan our current state of affairs. I would draw attention to our celebrity culture that glorifies the individual. I would note how our media, tv shows, song and more. tell us that being independent is the height of success… I would get on my soapbox and rail about how we can see this in the pro choice movement that tells women that autonomy over their own body is paramount to even anothers life!
But I’m not that kinds of preacher… and frankly it would be absolutely disingenuous of me to tell you that these days are so much worse than days past and that the world has started going so far down hill… because to be 100% honest. it’s not true. need proof? well lets go to the bible for that. Lets look at a couple of verses:
“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.
I could go on… but my point here is this… ever since the days of Adam and Eve we have exalted the individual higher than the collective. and if you’l bear with me for a moment I want to show you how starting with Adam and Eve. we have slid into a state of fear that is brought on by that original sin and till dogs us to this day...
Let’s go back to the beginning: There is Adam and Eve. a planet full of Animals and plants and God. And they lived in a stat of perfect love with God. There was no such thing as fear. it didn’t exist.. The would work the day away in the garden and then in the evening God would come and they would walk and chat.
Could you imagine. they just walked and talked with God. When Moses wanted to do the same thing God had to hide him in a mount cave put his hand over it and then simply pass by! and that alone made him literally shine! (Ex 34:29)
This is what Adam and Eve did everyday with God. and it was great until the Devil came.
Now you have all heard me preach that God’s plan for us includes community. He made us for community and wants us to live in community. We were literally meant for each other. and Satan wants to destroy community. so this is what he does. he talks to the woman and listen to the central thesis of His argument to her. Lets read it in Gen 3:4-5
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Up until now Adam and Eve knew one central truth.
Everything they had would have, and could have came from one source. God! They were reliant on God. God for all intense and purposes was their community. they relied on Him for all they had. and now comes this Satan and says. Hey… you can be like HIM.
and she believed it!. Now remember that This is the exact same lie that got into Satans head in Heaven. he thought himself LIKE God, and because of that he and 1/3 of the angels in heaven broke communion with God and were cast out. and now here comes Satan to try and do the same thing to God creation. because he knows that if he can get them to believe this they too will break communion with God… and it happened exactly like that.
But lets look at what Eve and them Adam was buying into… they lie that they bought into was this
You WILL be like God… and if you are LIKE God you won’t NEED God!
and so when they took that Apple (or whatever) they took a step towards what they thought would be independence. the problem is that God never meant for us to be independent. That wasn’t His plan. We were designed to be dependent on Him and on others.
This was the dynamic before the fall. Adam and Eve relyed on eachother and on God for every aspect of life. Adam could not do it without Eve nor Eve without Adam. and neither of them could do it without God. When they ate the apple (or whatever). they were saying “God, we got this”
So what was the immediate result of this?
Fear! fear was the immediate result Lets read from vs Gen 3:8-10
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
So the immediate result of Adam and eve breaking communion with God was fear. they knew they had done something wrong and that separated them from God. it caused fear in them. why? because they were now in a state of separation from the God who was and is the source of all they had!
I would be scared too!
And since that day even though God has been calling us back to Him, we have in one way or another been trying to do it on our own. and that’s why the Bible is littered with This phrase:
“And he (they, judah, etc) Did evil in the sight of the Lord. you can find this phrase in almost every book in the Old Testement. and when you see it you are likely about to read the story of God people doing it their own way.
We see time and time again this cycle.
God calls his people Israel to him
They form a covenant (form community again) with Him
The prosper for a time,
Then they decide they can do better on their own
They break their covenant (community) with God.
and and up living in a stat of fear and rejection until they decide to come back to God again.
Now I don’t know about you but there are about 50 instances if this happening in the OT… you’d think that God would get tired and simply say… yo know what? forget it… you’ve done this once to many times!.... good thing we serve a loving and patient God!
because we see this same cycle repeating itself even to today. we were once a people under God.. and we prospered. and then we figured we could do better on our own. we have (as a people) broken communion (community) with God and what has happened? We live our lives in a constant state of fear!
why is depression at an all time high? because
Long term fear leads to stress (worry about your bills for a day is one thing… worrying about your bills constantly is called stress)
Long term stress leads to anxiety (when you’ve been stressed so long that you literally cannot let go of it anymore), and
Long term Anxiety is what we call depression!
we live in a world of stress which has been brought on by the monster of fear! do you see how this works?
We live in a world full of fear, stress, and depression because we live in a world that has rejected God!
So how do we fight this monster? how do we combat something that seems to be everywhere even in our own lives?
Let me propose a few weapons to fight this monster
you’ve heard me talk about this a thousand times because I’m passionate about it.
I've told you that community is the way God intended us to be. we were literally and figuratively made for each other. the world works when we rely on each other and on God. when we live, breath and work in community.
I’ve already talked about how Adam and Eve started out in community with each other and with God. and we’ve seen a hundred times how people have broken that community with God… but He is always trying to bring us back together as well.
What was the first thing Jesus told his disciple to do after the Resurrection?
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;
why is that the first this he tells them? because He knew they were scared… they had just seen Jesus killed and then he was resurrected, and you have to imagine that any sane person would have somewhere in the back of his mind that maybe they were just going crazy (Thomas Said it… but they were probably all thinking it).
But Jesus knew that the best earthly way to combat their fear was for them to be together!
Any psychologist, Doctor, website, blogger, or person with a desire to help will tell you that one of the best treat and recover from depression is community. to get and stay connected with people who care about you. (look it up on Dr. Google)
So the first way to fight the monster of fear is to not be alone with it. find people to be with who care about you and want the best for you… find even just one friend who you can talk to, and fear will be diminished. See fear like to be alone, where it can talk you into further withdrawal.
Even being with one person can start to cast out fear, because when we are together, when we are in community we are closer to the way God intended us to be.
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
God is Love. and there is no fear in Love…
See When we create communion with God (that is, when we draw near to him and him to us) we are drawing near to Love itself. we are drawing near to Love perfected. and perfect love casts away all sin.
I know it sounds cliche but the truth of the matter is God is the solution to fear.
God was always the solution to fear. When we start looking elsewhere for our solutions we are doing exactly the opposite of What God wants us to do. we are saying “it’s ok God, I got this” and we perpetuate the cycle all over again.
Remember If fear comes from our constant desire to be independent, that anything other than dependence on God cannot be the solution.
and the deeper your dependence on God the further away fear must flee.
Because fear involves torment. and the God (who IS Love) won’t have that for your life.
God wants to be in community with you. He wants to be intimately part of your life.. from waking up to laying back down. from brushing your teeth… to well brushing your teeth.
Do you know why The bible uses the imagery of marriage to talk about God in his people? because it’s a fully intimate intertwined relationship.. It’s exactly what God wants for him and you
Jolene and I are a strange couple. we do everything together....
And it’s that kind of complete intermingling type of community that God wants to have with each of us.
There are certain things that I don’t have to fear because my wife is with me. Her support is what keeps me upright and going some days. it’s her words of encouragement that buoys me when I’m down
And God says He wants to do the same for each of us. that is why he calls the body of Christ (the church) his Bride. because that’s exactly the kind of relationship he wants to have with us.. and us with him.
The perfect Love of God casts out fear. and is the best weapon we have to combat fear
So we’ve looked at the monster of fear and learned where he comes from. we’ve seen that he comes from a desire to be independence that ultimately leaves us alone and vulnerable. We’ve seen that this is nothing new and even those we see symptoms of it everywhere it’s not necessarily a sign that things are getting worse, but more a sign that we simply haven't learned our lessons through history.
The fact of the matter is that the monster of fear is one that grows quickly from fear to stress to anxiety and into depression. but just as quickly as it grows fear can be defeated… if we choose to do things God’s way.
God never intended us to independent beings that do everything themselves. the highest achievement in Gods kingdom is not the one who can do it all him or herself. it is the person who can most fully place their trust in God.
It’s not the person who can say. I did it my way… but the person who can say that I did it God’s way. because when we do it God’s way the fear disappears and is replaces with boldness and joy!