Fearless

Fearless June 22, 2018

So, as I’m drilling down to uncover why so many of those who profess to know Christ are comfortable with killing, and torture, and war, I’ve discovered something: It turns out that what we really seem to lack is an abiding connection to the love of Christ in our daily, walking around lives.

At least, I cannot personally fathom how anyone who was abiding in Christ – who is Agape love incarnate – could look at another person made in the image of God and condone their torture, or approve of their death, or justify their suffering – even if it was in the best interest of our nation.

Not only are we disconnected from the love of Christ ourselves – and lacking in love for one another – we are also more often ruled by our fears than by our confidence in our Lord Jesus.

The truth is, our world is inundated with a continual, abiding fear. We are immersed in fear. We are surrounded by it. It is nearly inescapable in our culture today.

Don’t believe me? Just watch the evening news and count how often the word “fear” is used. Listen for how many times the news anchors refer to people who are afraid, or who are horrified, or terrified, etc. and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Then pay attention to the TV shows you watch. Notice how often fear is used to motivate everyone’s actions. Or how those real-life mystery shows train you to suspect your spouse or to mistrust your neighbors.

It’s on the Internet too. Just the other day I posted this on social media:

“Fear says: Buy bigger guns, locks and dogs to protect yourself.
Love says: Welcome friend. What’s mine is yours.”

The reaction I received to that was this:
“Easy enough to say until you’re watching some thug rape your wife or daughter.”

Wow. Instant, automatic fear response. (And, yes, this was from a Christian).

Our choice is simple: We either decide to remain in a place of fear – and then we make decisions that flow from that fear – OR we decide to live in the love of Christ and then we make decisions that flow from Him and His love.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, we cannot do both.

Either we put our hope in Christ and we walk in His love, or we walk in fear and we live our lives as people who must manage those fears.

Let’s consider this for a moment: Could someone who honestly put their hope in Christ ever live in continual fear? Of course not! And someone who is led by their fears can’t – at the same time – be completely trusting the Lord and placing their hope in Him. The two are mutually exclusive.

As I’ve said once before, Jesus came and introduced us to something called “The Good News (or Gospel) of the Kingdom” and it is about complete submission and daily reliance upon Christ.

We either follow the Way of the World (which involves fear, and violence, and torture, and power, etc.), or we follow the Way of Christ (which involves trust, and love, and humility and service to others, etc.).

We cannot follow the Way of the World and the Way of Christ at the same time. It’s like saying that you’re going to get in your car and drive East and West at the same time. It can’t be done.

Either go one way or the other, but you can’t do both because one path will take you in the opposite direction from the other one.

Why am I writing about fear? Because fear is the flip side of the coin from love. We’re told that “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 Jn. 4:18) And I believe that if we cling to our fears we’ll also experience less love and suffer from the effects of that deficiency.

Anyone who doubts this can simply look around you. Our world is not following the Way of Christ. It is saturated with fear. It is ruled by fear. It is all about power and control and exploitation and selfishness.

Jesus came and died to demonstrate a better way. That’s what we call the Good News.

It means we can abandon those ways of being and start living a different way – a Heavenly way. It means we can actually be transformed from within by His incredible love and His amazing Holy Spirit into people who are not ruled by fear any longer.

Because we put our continual hope in Jesus we can love without fearing pain. We can trust without fearing violence. We can give without fearing poverty. We can share without fearing guilt.

As followers of Jesus, we have to say no to fear and yes to love. We have to repent and turn away from the way of the world. We have to put our hearts into His capable hands and begin to trust Him with everything. We have to start learning how to walk in love and to leave fear behind us for good.

Abiding in Christ means abandoning fear. The only thing that casts out all fear is His perfect love. When we are filled with his love there is no more room for fear. When His love fills us, we can’t help but love everyone around us – even our enemies.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:16-19)

**

Keith Giles is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Jesus Unbound: How the Bible Keeps Us From Hearing the Word of God”, available July 4th, 2018.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

BONUS: Unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more on my Patreon page.

 

"Trying to control the question/answer exchange like that is just how the Pharisees tried to ..."

Childlike Wisdom
"I don't have simple answers for this complex topic, but we can be liberated by ..."

In Defense of Brian Zahnd
"In other words, you read the Bible & cherry pick which parts to agree with ..."

Childlike Wisdom
"I wouldn't take the experiential outpouring of a person into a song as propositional theology. ..."

Childlike Wisdom

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • You are “drilling down to uncover why so many of those who profess to know Christ are comfortable with killing, and torture, and war”?

    It’s no mystery. Just read the New Testament:

    Jesus didn’t tell the Roman centurion (whose servant he healed) to give up being a soldier.

    Jesus seemed amenable to beating disobedient slaves “with many stripes.” http://biblehub.com/luke/12-47.htm

    In the fourth Gospel Jesus calls Jews who reject him “children of the devil,” and also physically whips money changers out of the Temple. In that same Gospel there is no command to love one’s neighbors or enemies, only for Christians to love each other: https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-gospel-of-john-consists-of-anti.html

    As for family bonds, consider that Jesus thought it more important to follow him than to honor family commitments.

    The Gospel of Matthew threatens those who fail to assist Christians in spreading the message of Jesus with damnation: https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2015/01/heavenly-extortion-according-to-author.html

    And see Protestant and Catholic Defenses of Persecuting Heretics, Infidels, and Blasphemers https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2010/05/protestant-catholic-defenses-of.html

    And Things Christians Have Been Against: https://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2012/03/list-of-things-christians-have-been.html

    There’s also an academic work by biblical scholar Hector Avalos on the topic, The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics https://www.sheffieldphoenix.com/showbook.asp?bkid=294

  • A J MacDonald Jr

    You’re absolutely right Keith. Fear is the devil’s greatest weapon, and he uses it all the time. No Christian should ever live in fear. We should only live in love.

  • You’re right. Jesus did not tell the Roman centurion to give up being a soldier. This must mean that Jesus is totally ok with people serving as soldiers.

    Jesus also didn’t tell the prostitute who came and washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair to stop being a prostitute. This must mean that Jesus is totally ok with women serving as prostitutes.

    Thank you for your insights.

  • Read that passage again. It says Jesus made a whip to drive the animals out of the temple. Jesus did not beat or whip any people.

  • otrotierra

    Thank you Keith for this enlightening commentary.

  • You may be right. But having checked major translations I am unsure if one can prove a full denial, i.e., that the cord was never used on people — note how several major translations say people were driven out along with the cattle: http://biblehub.com/john/2-15.htm Also, Jesus overturning tables with heavy ancient coins being flung off the tables remains a relatively violent act from which people were fleeing.

  • The analogy does not hold, adultery is sinful in that chapter, but there isn’t a hint of an aura of sin around being a soldier.

    As for what the Bible may allow in the way of peace/war, tolerance/intolerance, I think we agree concerning which passages are the most magnanimous:

    Luke 2:14, “Peace on earth, good will toward men [at Jesus’s birth];” “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Mat. 5:9); “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27a).

    But what do you do with these passages?

    “Do you suppose that I  [Jesus] came to grant peace on earth? I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mat. 10:34); “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division… I have come to cast fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.” (Luke 12:49,51)

    I am afraid that Christianity contains confusing mixed messages.

    For most of Christian history Christians have been lambs only when they were in the minority, such as when they were at the mercy of the Roman majority, but as soon as a pro-Christian Emperor arose many lambs began transforming into lions. And Christian rulers, aided by major theological figures, began to call for the persecution of non-Christians, fellow Christ lovers they deemed heretics, Jews, etc., a practice that continued for 1300 years. Mixed messages in the Bible itself are to blame. That is because the NT didn’t address the question of what laws or punishments should be decreed by rulers, it just said to obey those in power. Nor does it appear like the historical Jesus meant to found a church (probably because the final judgment was believed nigh and one must concentrate on saving one’s own soul). So without such guidance in the NT many theologians noted how the OT laid down laws and punishments galore that apparently were instituted by God to maintain His blessing and avoid His curses befalling the whole nation, including such laws as having no other god but Yahweh worshiped, under penalty of execution. Christian theologians and rulers have been struggling to reconcile testaments ever since. 

    Also, was Jesus the Prince of Peace? (The “mighty god” passage in Isaiah does not refer to Jesus.)  And Jesus is depicted in the Gospels raising tensions rather than lowering them by sharing with his followers a long list of insults aimed at those who opposed his movement, turning over tables, and don’t forget to read how several of Jesus’ parables end, such as one in which Jesus seems to agree that disobedient slaves shall be beaten with many stripes, or another parable in which a godly figure demands his enemies be slain right in front of him, i.e., capital punishment for his enemies. In short, Jesus as an apocalypse mind individual or his immediate followers probably did come to believe that he had come, or the Son of Man would come, to set fire to the earth, and they wished it was already kindled. Nonbelievers are referred to as damned already, or like fruitless vines thrown into flames, Jesus also seemed satisfied with his movement inciting divisions between family members. 

    In Deuteronomy 18:20 Yahweh unceremoniously sentences all followers of other gods to death. For Christians, of course, the Tanakh or “Old Testament” has been superseded by a new collection of texts, many of which are similarly belligerent. In Galatians 1:8 Paul curses any man or angel who dares to proclaim a contrary gospel, and in 2 Peter 2:1 “swift destruction” is prescribed for all false prophets and teachers.

    One should read St. Bellarmine’s volume on the church and social justice, the final chapters are chilling and agree with Calvin that magistrates must punish heretics. The Catholic Bellarmine, and Protestants like Luther and Calvin, and others for about 1300 years held to a Scripture-based theology of persecution which made sense in a Christian dominated culture that believed heresy was worse than murder since it did not lead merely to the death of the body, and they also argued that a father had the right to kill heretics before their teaching damned his children’s souls, since a father had the right to kill someone threatening his children’s physical lives, but damnation was far worse . Bellarmine ends his book http://catholicism.org/de-laicis.html/22  with this paragraph at the end of chapter 22:

    An Eighteenth Argument [against the punishment of heretics]:  Never did the Apostles call upon the secular arm. [But] St. Augustine replies (in Letter 50, and elsewhere) that the Apostles never did because then there was no Christian Ruler they could call upon. For, at that time, the words of the Psalm (II, 2 & 10) were verified: “The kings of the earth, and the princes conspire together against the Lord and against His anointed.” (v. 2) And after the time of Constantine, that began to be verified which is written later in the same Psalm: “And now, O kings, give heed; take warning, you rulers of the earth: Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before Him; with trembling pay homage to him… ” (vs. 10-12) Soon the Church implored the help of the secular arm.

  • richardrichard2013

    “Jesus didn’t tell the Roman centurion (whose servant he healed) to give up being a soldier.”

    jesus never went to the magistrates and told them to turn the other cheek.

  • richardrichard2013

    fallacy of false equivalence. the job of soldier is to keep law , order and protection of society.

    the prostitute was doing crime against the torah, the soldier who does violent job is doing no crime against the torah.

  • Widuran

    War is always the very last resort but is needed sometimes. EG WW1 and WW2

  • Robert Auth

    I see a troubling extremism in your post. You have many posts talking about God’s *unconditional love* for everyone. Here, you suggest that is discounted if we maintain some aspects of fear as believers. * Lord i believe, help my unbelief* In Matthew, during the Great Commission, it says *some doubted* Jesus Himself expressed fear in the garden of Gethsemane. I think God & Jesus fully LOVE & ACCEPT all- even if they battle fear & unbelief!!!