It’s so easy for a preacher to exhibit fear and not faith when standing before the church and calling the congregation to faithfulness and righteousness.
Fear is not your knees knocking. Fear is not the beads of perspiration popping out on your forehead or the trembling of your hand as you do this very hard thing.
To go ahead and do the difficult but right thing when you know full well that some are not going to like it take real courage.
Courage is in short supply in church work these days, I fear.
Fear often sits in the drivers seat.
Fear backs down. Fear puts job security above everything else. Fear dreads the wrath of certain church members with a spiritual gift for making life miserable for the Lord’s pastors.
Fear does not want to rock the boat, wants everyone to be on board and happy before any decision is made, and does not sleep when one church member is upset.
Fear hesitates to do anything unusual, anything that has never been tried before, anything outside the normal practice, anything that might be questioned. Faith establishes that the status quot is the path, now walk in it.
Fear rejects change whereas faith loves the new things the Creator God is always producing.
Fear rejects the new and holds on to the old whereas faith appreciates some things of the past but is never wed to the instrument, only committed to the Master.
Fear wants to placate those who can cause the most trouble; faith wants to please the Savior at all costs.
Fear gives in to threats; faith takes note of the threats, then ignores them and goes ahead.
Fear rejects something God wants because of how it might look, what outsiders may say, out of a desire to please the world. Faith understands such caution but has learned to scoff at it..
Fear refuses to take a chance on people. Faith never misses an opportunity to do just that.
Fear refuses to go ahead when the path is not clear, supplies are not on hand, and the vote is not 100 percent. Faith obeys, regardless of how far it can see, what it has on hand, and how many are in favor.
Fear refuses to go out not knowing where it is going. Faith follows.
Fear is overly cautious. “Lord, I knew that you are a hard man. You reap where you have not sown. So, I hid your talent.” (Matthew 25:24-25). Faith knows that he who saves his life shall lose it (Luke 9:24) and “Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abides alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24).
Fear never steps out of the boat. Faith says, “Lord, bid me walk on the water, too!” (Matthew 14:28).
Fear will not tithe. “What if I should lose my job?” Fear will not witness to his neighbor. “What if he gets offended?” Fear will not speak before a large group. “I get nervous.”
“Fear has torment,” Scripture says. And it does indeed. (I John 4:18)
There is of course a proper place for reasonable fear. That’s why we carry insurance policies, buckle our seat belts and never step off high buildings. We lock church doors at night and station security people around the building during worship and other events. We are not “afraid” so much as cautious, knowing that we live in a fallen world when evil people delight in doing bad things to anyone claiming to follow Christ.
There is also something that looks a lot like faith but which is presumption. (See Psalm 19:13) Presumption means going where the Lord has not sent us, doing what He has not requested, claiming what He has not promised, and expecting Him to come through on something merely because we want it. For Peter to have stepped out of the boat without a command from Jesus and expecting either to walk on water or the Lord to catch him would have been presumption.
“Why did you fear?” the Lord asked the disciples. “Where is your faith?” (Mark 4:40)
I suspect that when we stand before the Lord at Judgment that will be the question of the hour. We were given so many opportunities to do wonderful things for Him, and accomplished so few because of our fears.
Faith compliments the Lord.
Fear insults Him.
And believe me, friend, you and I do not want to be insulting the Lord of Heaven and earth.
Publication date: August 24, 2016
Joe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian publications more than 45 years. He blogs at www.joemckeever.com.