Tuesdays in the Theological Think Tank: Overcoming Fear

            Fear is a common feature of our existence. There isn’t anyone who hasn’t at some point in their life wrestled with the reality of being afraid. The cause of fear is rather obvious: we can’t control our universe. This lack of control puts us all into scenarios where a desirable outcome cannot be foreseen or at least not determined. So we, as frail human beings, fear. But fear, in the heart of Christians, can also reveal something else, something beyond our own humanity: idolatry.

            Fear has a tendency to expose what we truly trust and what we truly desire. We fear the depletion of our bank account because we find security in our finances. We fear the opinions of others because we want to look good. Even, we fear the harm of our children because ultimately our happiness and well being is dependent upon them. Now, I am painting with a broad brush here. Some fears are truly legitimate and they don’t have these ulterior, selfish, sinful, motivations rooted in them. What I am addressing here is not so much the common fears we all have, but rather the irrational fears that absorb our minds and over which we obsess. These are the fears that reveal our lack of trust in God’s care and provision, and which ultimately reveal our idolatry of other things. What I want to focus on, then, is how we can, Biblically, overcome our fears.

            Luke 12:22-34 gives us great promises and great motivations to fight fear, I’d encourage you to read these verses and let them open your mind to the realities of God’s control and care. That will be a great starting place to overcoming fear. Let me just highlight a few of the promises these verses unpack.

            First, observe that the text tells us our life is more than food and clothing. We worry about these things because we are convinced that this is what constitutes a happy and successful life. Do we have enough food, do we have nice clothes, do we have a good job, plenty in the bank, a comfortable home, a fancy car, etc. We worry because we have bought into this world’s lie which says that you need those things to have a truly successful life. But God says you don’t need them, your life amounts to more.

            Secondly, the text points out how God cares for the ravens and since he loves us more than them we ought to trust Him to provide for our needs. It’s important to consider the objects of God’s love here. The raven was and is a disgusting animal which picks at road kill. It’s not like the pretty peacock or some majestic bird like the eagle, it’s like a vulture or a buzzard. God cares for these animals though they are nasty and seemingly have no value. Why, then, do we doubt that He will care for us though we know He loves us more than the buzzards.

            Thirdly, Jesus points out that you can’t add one inch to your life by worrying. The Bible often pictures life as a walk, a journey, and the idea here is you can’t add an inch to the steps you take in your life by worrying. We think of life in time spans and so we might say you can’t add a minute to your life by worrying, so why bother. The truth is that worry changes nothing good, but it does change something. In fact there are serious physical and psychological consequences for consistent worry, and so you can’t add to your life but through worrying you may detract from it (think heart disease, think ulcers, think restlessness).

            Fourthly, like the ravens, God also cares for the flowers but He loves you more than them. In this scenario it is not so much the nature of the creature that God cares for but rather its life span. The flower is here today and gone tomorrow yet it doesn’t worry. God cares for it, clothes it in beauty and splendor, and then it is no more. But if God can care for the short life span of the flower with such detail and care won’t he do even more for the climax of his creation: humanity?

            Fifthly, Jesus highlights a contrast here between the world and Christians. The world worries and obsesses over things it can’t control. Why? Because it has not divine controller to whom it can run. But Christians have faith in a living, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent God who cares for them. We ought to look different, then, from those who do not have this hope.

            Sixthly, God is our Father. The language of this text tells us not to worry because God is our Father! We have this relationship with the almighty creator and sustainer of the universe which gives us freedom from fear. He cares for us and He controls all things. In other words: If God is for us who can be against us?

            Friends, there is much to give us freedom from fear. Ultimately it is the Gospel that does this. Romans 8:28-29 tells us that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who are called according to his purpose. For those who belong to God there is nothing that He isn’t using for our good. But this is a promise contingent upon a right relationship with God. You want to lose the need to fear, then call on Christ and trust in His death and resurrection for your sins and see that God is orchestrating everything for your good. The gospel frees you from fear!

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