ARE WE AFRAID?

By DANNY MINTON

Remember this commercial?

“What’s this stuff?”

“Some cereal. It’s supposed to be good for you.”

“Did you try it?”

“I’m not going to try it; you try it!”

“I’m not going to try it.”

“Let’s get Mikey!”

“Yeah!”

“He won’t eat it. He hates everything!”

“He likes it! Hey Mikey!”

We live in a world riddled with fear. Everywhere we turn it is present, or at least the perception of fear exists. Our parents used fear to get us to act correctly. “Just wait until your father gets home!” Siblings use it as a threat. “I’m going to tell mother!” Politicians use it to get votes or get you to look at their opponent in a negative light. “He voted against that law so he doesn’t care about you!”

There is a certain amount of fear that lives in all of us. Each person has their own fear. As children, some had a fear of the dark and monsters under the bed or in the closet. We feared certain teachers in school or facing the school bully.

Some of us have a fear of spiders or snakes or birds. There is a fear of water, heights, and being in enclosed areas. Others fear public speaking and being in front of groups. Still others fear that others won’t like them or make fun of them.

When it comes to fear, it’s also one of the biggest tools that Satan uses to keep good Christian people under control. Most people don’t like conflict, so he uses our fear of not wanting to be in conflict to keep Christians silent.

A group of us were playing golf several years back with another friend of mine at the Dyess course. Unfortunately, his language was much more colorful than the three of us used. After a few holes, we told him that we got up the nerve to tell him we really didn’t appreciate the language he used. It calmed down, but he never played with us again. We were hesitant, fearing his response.

I believe Satan uses this fear today. It comes in different forms. We surely don’t want to turn someone from the Lord. We don’t want to come across as non-caring. We are faced with political correctness and a world that promotes tolerance even when it goes against God’s teaching. We fear that if we say something we will come under the fire of criticism. Even as I write these thoughts, I have the fear that someone won’t like what I say and offer their criticism.

Are we afraid to stand up for Christ and his teachings? Are we afraid to tell people that’s the way to salvation? Are we afraid to tell people what it means to follow Christ? Are we afraid to take a stand against the world because of what others might say? Are we afraid to tell the church what God expects of them? Are we afraid that someone will leave or be offended because we expect them to give better, live better, and serve the Lord?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should go back to “Hell, Fire and Brimstone” sermons or even address these issues from the pulpit. That’s not what worship is all about. But somewhere along the line, we need to take a stand for Jesus and against Satan and how he is getting a foothold on the world in which we live.

Christians need to quit being afraid. We need to quit tiptoeing around people because of what may or may not happen. True followers stand faithful, move forward, and have the presence of strength that makes a church strong in the face of Satan. Yes, there will be people that disagree and turn away. There will be people that get mad or upset. There will be people that will blast us and be unhappy. However, do we really want to trade Jesus for being politically correct? Do we want to be silent with the truth in order not to hurt someone’s feelings or face their criticism?

When my son was small, we would take him kicking and screaming into the doctor’s office for his shots. He hated it! His pediatrician was Dr. Payne. Chris called him “Dr. Pain in the neck.” We took him anyway, tears flowing down his cheeks, nose running, and in mortal fear! Why? Because we loved him and were wanting to protect him from all the childhood diseases. He made it through and loves us in spite of the childhood trauma.

We cannot let Satan win! We have a choice. We can be like King Saul, who hid in his tent as the giant Goliath taunted him and his soldiers, leaving them cowering in fear or on the other hand, we can be like David, who with a slingshot and a hand full of stones stood up to the challenge. Standing in the face of criticism from the giant before him, he won the battle, not by backing down, but standing firm with God on his side.

At the bottom of my emails I include a scripture from Joshua 24, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” He was a man unafraid to go against the majority, standing up for God in the face of adversity.

How about us? Are we afraid or brave enough to face the world and the monsters we fear?

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 41:13-14

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ.

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