this began as a VEEEEERRRY long entry...so long that i could not get my thoughts in order. it was full of the ponderings of several weeks and months. it was too full. so i'm gonna make it a series of entries. they may not roll out quickly, and they may be interrupted by other things, but they will come.
the study is fear...fear and faith really. of how one culture seeks to set us free from fear, whether terror, lack of control, or anxiety, or any manner fear uses to manifest itself. of how another culture holds us captive through it, playing on all forms to conform us to a lifestyle that scarcely resembles the one we see as that of the followers of Jesus we read of in the Bible.
fear may not be the only form of slavery to which we are bound, but there's likely nothing more encapsulating as far as being the opposite of freedom. and yet, when we are presented with the idea of freedom as mankind sees it, it is freedom that is often used as the basis for instilling fear. nothing, in this country, is more sure to spark vigorous action than the idea that one's freedoms are being infringed upon or taken away. watch the Town Hall meetings going on around the country over the universal health care plan being assembled in Congress. there is an overwhelming sense of fear running through the dialogue and diatribes. "this is not the america i grew up in", "we're turning into russia", etc are consistent complaints. it's based in a fear that's been pushed hard by certain groups since before the presidential election. that fear is "you will take away from me and give to someone else."
i want to look at that fear today. i see a deep incongruity in the life of a follower of Jesus being held by that fear. it's an incongruity that will find it's way into several of these pices on fear. i guess i'll just make this the foundation of my whole fear/faith position. God is who He says He is, regardless of our response to Him. the incongruity ls this. we say we believe He is all that He claims, but our fear belies that. it cannot be that God is sovereign, we are faithful followers, and we fear. oh, in our humanity, we will be afraid. moments of fear are unavoidable. but to live controlled by fear...this is incongruous with a live in pursuit of the Kingdom culture.
so, on this first fear...the loss of what we have, what we have worked for, what we have saved, what is ours...and not some lazy or illegal or _________...fill in the blank with whomever comes to mind when you think of those who would benefit from your loss. if we work in the premise of the fear, certainly it makes some sense. we have expenses that come close to meeting our receipts...and many times exceed them. we live in a precarious balance, with debt pulling from one side, desire pulling from another, and a still, small voice pulling from yet another. we want, get, and pay. we live well in that tension, finding time for church and small group, movies and vacation, and 60 hours of work. it lets us give a little to each side that asks for more.
but what of...maybe the rich young ruler? was he desirous of following Jesus? there was something of an interest, if he could control the way it went down. Jesus saw that...sell all you have and give it to the poor. he went away sad. (on a side note, we do very well with the answer from questioner #1 that asked "what must i do to be saved?" you must be born again. we are generally solid on that one. but questioner #2? "what must i do for eternal life?" sell everything you have and give it to the poor. when's the last time we heard that preached? when's the last time we wrestled with the weight of that one? hmmmm...) i believe we walk away sad every day. not because we don't sell everything every day and give it to the poor, but because our minds and hearts should be on providing for those who go without, and yet we're terrified that a life of that will find us short in our ability to pay or play. or life safely. or send our kids to college. or have a retirement account with with we can live out our days. or...
Jesus said of the Father...will not your heavenly Father take care of you? birds don't fret. flowers don't fret. yeah, but flowers don't have three maxed out credit cards, a mortgage, 4 kids, disneyland on the 28th, and on and on. and a small voice asks for the 70th x 7 time...draw to me and away from the debt and desire. let me change your heart to mine. my life is hard, but my burden is easy.
do not mistake man's freedoms for the freedoms of the Kingdom. in our pursuit of man's freedoms we will lose the freedoms of the Kingdom...we will do what we want, instead of what is best for those oppressed. but make no mistake, if we choose the freedoms of the Kingdom, we will lose the freedoms of man. we will shop differently, although it means getting less for more. we will seek to free up the resources we fear will be taken...and give them away anyway. we will look differently at those man looks at as different, and welcome them into our homes and lives without fear of what might happen to friends, family, and possessions. we will use our time differently. instead of so much focus on ourselves and those who are just like us, we will find time to stand up and speak out and inform ourselves and make a ruckus for justice, rather that to perpetuate a lifestyle and culture.
truthfully, there is nothing that can be taken from us that should cause us to fear. it hardly makes sense and surely goes against what we've been taught throughout our lives. but follow the lives of the Jesus followers. whether it was money, position, work, family, or life itself, they did not allow fear to keep them cloistered in a safe little community of believers away from the dangers of life. in fact, the dangers of life caused them to come together...but it didn't stop them from going back out.
Beware anyone, any talking head, who tells you "be afraid!" it is completely opposed to the word of God to your heart and soul. do not be afraid, for our God is with us whether in green pastures, or the valley of the shadow of death.