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Christians are not POWs

Jesus died so that He might “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:15).

The Bible teaches us to live with fear without living in fear. The feeling of fear is natural. Everyone is afraid at times. But just because you feel it doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to it. Paul felt fear, but he said, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7). A spirit of fear is a frame of mind, a mindset of fear. God does not want us to live like that. If we live in fear, it is our fault, not God’s.

Jesus Himself faced the fear of dying. He prayed in Gethsemane, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matt.26:39). Those words came from the human side of Jesus. He knew all along that He would die by crucifixion, and as that time drew near He felt dread and anguish in His heart. But Hebrews 2 tells us that He faced His fear and overcame it. The fear of death may be natural, but for Christians it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

The world resents us for preaching about hell. “Religion is all about controlling people by scaring them,” they tell us. Is it not strange that this is exactly what they try to do to us? Politicians try to scare us with warnings about driving our cars and destroying the planet through global warming. News and drug commercials tell us we may die if we fail to follow every minute health procedure they recommend. The government and the media have become like the idols of the Old Testament. People hope they will be blessed if they please the gods and fear they will be cursed if they don’t. But as long as they are addicted to television and the internet, they will be slaves of fear.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Sadly, that is what many today are afraid of. That even includes some Christians.

The following appeared in the Gospel Advocate many years ago. I often recall these words when life gets a little intimidating:


Not Work, But Worry

It is not the work, but the worry,

That makes the world grow old,

That shortens the years of many,

Before half their life is told.

It is not the work, but the worry,

That places on life a ban;

The cares and fears that crowd the years—

These break the heart of man.


Fear often comes from what we put into our minds. The Bible says what we think in our hearts is who we are (Prov. 23:7). Some fears are good and even necessary, but if we paralyze ourselves with constant fearful thoughts, we will never have peace and joy. Fear is like fire in a fireplace. It is useful if you keep it in its place, but if you let it get out of control it will destroy you.

You do not have to live in a prison of fear. If you face up to the most fearful thought of all—dying—then your other fears will diminish. That means being a child of God and living and thinking like one. If you are a Christian your attitude should be, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Jesus died to take the shackles of fear away. There is no reason to put them back on. We don’t have to live in fear when we live by faith.

Kerry

West End Church of Christ Bulletin article for September 26, 2021

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