An enlightening conversation with a Christian man recently, reminded me of the power of fear. Local culture was a huge stumbling block to him publicly professing his faith, as so many expectations and obligations were put on only men in his denomination and not women.

He was fearful of failure and of not being ‘good enough’. Fearful of letting people down and God down. Fear-full not faith- full. Cultural norms, as opposed to biblical ones can be a genuine source of fear in some Christian and church communities.

Perhaps those of us more mature in our walk with God would wonder at such a response. Before we may be tempted to pass judgement, I wonder if we have any fears ourselves that are depowering us and not empowering us?

Are we fearful of our role and even job security because of declining numbers in the parish? Are we so fearful of failure we won’t try new initiatives in church? What about fear of sharing ourselves, letting down our masks and being honest about any struggles or personal issues we may be facing? Other fears in ministry include fear with finances, fear about a troubled marriage, family fears, fear of church decline, fear of church boards/kirk sessions, fear of loneliness, lack of support and rejection from parishioners. And many more to boot ..!

Is fear holding you captive today as you serve the Lord? We need to remember as Christians that God wants us to ‘walk by faith’ whereas Satan wants us to ‘live in fear’. Fear usually begins with a thought. We would do well to take some of our thoughts captive or we can start to give credence to unhealthy thoughts not healthy ones. We may also be tempted to fall into the trap of thinking that we are to live in our own strength as opposed to relying on God’s.

There are many books available about conquering our fears and anxieties. Research and invest in them if that is what you need. You’ll be glad you did! The best book of all – The Bible – offers us these promises below to cling on to. Underline, memorise, and make your own personal declarations.

  1. ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10
  2. ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.’ Psalm 56:3
  3. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4:6-7
  4. ‘Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.’ John 14:27
  5. ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’ 2 Timothy 1:7
  6. ‘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

Lord, deliver us from fears, strengthen and position us today to be fear-less and faith filled, whatever the circumstances, in Jesus mighty name. Amen.

D MacNeil

 

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