Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m a Christian and I’m scared. It seems like the globalization of our world teeters on the brink of collapse. I worry about recessions. I worry about our retirement funds. I worry about the future of our children. I can’t believe it, but I’m scared to go to the mall. Is it safe?
Stock market dives, natural disasters, violence, and political unrest terrify me! How do I find peace?
I recently talked to a person who told me that He’d made plans to secure his future. When I asked him about his “plan” for surviving nuclear war, starvation, anarchy, or economic collapse, he was quite clear! Of course he knew that there are no guarantees.
Bill said, “Here is my plan to get ready.”
Build a bunker.
Hide my guns before the government takes them away.
Buy gold and stash it.
Stockpile food and water.
He was ready for anything. Or was he? He sounded rather confident, but inside I know that he was at least somewhat afraid. Why else would he go to all this trouble?
If we look at his plan, the four things that concerned him are the same things that concern us.
1. We want to be safe from disaster (build a bunker).
2. We want to be protected from danger and from evil men (have a gun).
3. We want to be secure financially (buy gold).
4. We want to have enough to eat and drink (stockpile food and water).
I was chatting with a friend about our world situation, and what might happen if we entered a global recession and unmitigated chaos.
Many people around the world face these challenges every single day.
Will there be food in the markets? Can I find clean water? Will the banks have money left? Will I have a place to live? Will I be persecuted for my faith?
In the midst of all these threatening worldwide times and difficulties, I think that Jesus’ advice to us might will be, “Don’t be afraid; be at peace.”
“I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears”
Jesus is the Giver of Peace.
Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace give you, not as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”
We can’t procure our own peace. It has to be the peace that Jesus gives. We can key off of that.
We have the choice to calm down and trust God for the future, or we can live in fear and be miserable.
Regarding Building A Bunker:
“He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress… He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.
“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday...
“1000 may fall at your side, 10,000 at your right hand, but it will not come near you...
“If you make the Most High your dwelling… Then no harm will befall you no disaster will come near your tent.
“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways”
Regarding Protection From Evil Situations And Evil Men:
“Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away”
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them”
Regarding Financial Security:
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”
Regarding Food And Drink:
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them.”
There is a caveat here.
The above verses are designed to bring us peace in the midst of difficulties.
However, they are not guarantees that we will go through life without difficulty and suffering.
Jesus said that there would be war as well as earthly calamities. He said we would be persecuted and betrayed. But He promised He would be united with us in our hour of need.
“I have told you this so that you will have peace by being united to me. The world will make you suffer. But be brave! I have defeated the world!”
Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven”
Fear Of The Future Requires Action. What Do We Do?
First, we saturate our minds with Bible verses about God’s care so that we have them available when we need peace.
Second, we quiet our minds and practice David’s Psalm 131.
“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul” (RSV).
David tells us that he had the choice of calming his own soul or of letting it rage in fear and anxiety. He chose to calm himself.
We face the same choice. We can quiet down before God and calm our souls, or we can be miserable and afraid. This is what choosing peace is all about.
Finally, we keep walking forward in faith. What does that look like?
1. Invest in His kingdom. He told us to lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy. When our economic future is unsure, we do the opposite. We hoard. We stop giving to God's work. Be frugal and wise, but remember you are investing in a kingdom that won't pass away.
2. Share the gospel boldly. Everywhere. The command of Jesus at his ascension was “Go and Make disciples.” The worse the world gets, the more receptive people are to the good news of Jesus. They need hope.
3. Worship every day. Praise Him and sing to Him. Focus on His greatness. An old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, simply says “… And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
4. Meet with other Christians. God designed the church for a reason. We are greater together than alone. We may not always have that privilege.
I know that you’ve been afraid, but remember that Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid, I have overcome the world!”
I hope that these thoughts are helpful to you.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Publication date: June 28, 2016