A few years ago, Chris Tomlin put out a song titled the same as this blog post. It was a song reminding us as Christians of who is fighting for us. I don’t know Mr. Tomlin, nor do I know his thought process behind the song, but I imagine it was at least slightly influenced by today’s biblical text. The text talks about who we should truly fear, and who we should not be afraid of. Jesus said in Luke 12:4-5, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” Jesus goes on in the next couple of verses to say that mankind is even more valuable than the rest of God’s creation. This is because only mankind is created in the image of God. It is also because, it is for mankind that Jesus suffered and died. However, I believe we need to take time to truly understand what Jesus was saying in the text.
Right not in this country, there is a lot of unrest. There are daily reports of riots and violence. Many governments have been overreaching their given power, and when challenged they threaten punishment to get people back in line. This is not going to be a post about the place and power of government. In fact, what I have said is as far as I’m going down that road. The main point is that we should have a genuine fear of God. All man can do is threaten, torture, or kills us. I don’t say that lightly. However, that is Jesus’ point. Humans only have power over things on earth, God is the only one who has power over the eternal. While we are on the subject, it is truly God who has the power over things on earth as well, because He is sovereign. Nothing happens in God’s creation without God’s knowledge of it. When we think of the word “fear”, we think of something bad, something terrifying. The word certainly does carry that meaning at times. If you were to look at the Greek word used for fear, it is where we get the English word, phobia. However, the word also carries with it the idea of awe and reverence. In this sense, our reverence would lead us to obedience. I would argue that this is what Jesus is getting at in this text. The one that we have the greater respect for is the one that we are going to obey. Do we have a greater respect for human authority or God’s authority? Jesus is telling us that we should obey Him, because He not only has power over this life, but also power over eternal life. This is a power that no one else has. Why should we be afraid of someone that can never give us what we need nor can they take it away from us? Later in the chapter, Jesus talks about those who confess Him before men and those who refuse to confess Him before men. We can’t be closet Christians out of fear of what some may think of us, or what they might even do to us. If we truly love Jesus, then we will obey Him regardless of any potential consequences. This is one of the reasons that I believe God is giving the church as a whole an opportunity to shine the light of the Gospel and to be salt in our nation during this pandemic. Are we going to choose to live in fear, or will we live by faith knowing that God is in control of every aspect of our life, including the time of our death? This doesn’t mean that we act irresponsible or reckless. The Bible says that we are not to tempt the Lord our God. But the church also can’t cower in the corner when our faith runs contrary to the popular opinion of the day. We must boldly, yet lovingly and graciously stand up, and speak out on what the Bible teaches. Of course, this also means that we better be living it out, because the world will spot a hypocrite from a mile away. Now is the time for the church to lead the way by loving God more than we enjoy the comfort of this life. Maybe you are wondering, how can we do that?
- Prayer. If we really want to see lasting change in our lives, our family’s lives, and the nation; then we are going to have to be men and women of prayer. Remember, we are not fighting a visible war. Rather, we are fighting an invisible war according to Paul in Ephesians 6:12. We must daily pray for those who are far from God, that He will convict them, draw them, and by His grace save them. We must pray that we would have the courage and conviction to lead our family and to be a witness to those around us of the power of the Gospel.
- Living the truth. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep My commandments.” James 1:22 says, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” I could list many more scriptures about the role of obedience, but hopefully these make the point. People need to see Christians living according to the way Christ taught us and showed us how to live.
- Speaking the truth. There is a famous quote that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. The quote is, “Preach the Gospel always, use words if necessary.” For what it is worth, there is no proof he actually said it. Second, it’s flat wrong. While our obedience will give evidence to the fact we have been saved by God; our obedience will not tell someone how they can surrender in faith to God’s grace. The apostle Paul in Romans 10:17 says, “So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” The previous verses, Paul says that God has sent us to proclaim the Gospel. How can I proclaim the Gospel when my mouth is closed? The answer is you can’t. We have to open our mouth and share the Gospel. Not only do we need to open our mouth and share the Gospel, but we need to also be vocal on biblical principles. By the way, we can’t just cherry-pick the ones we like or don’t struggle with. Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” Isaiah didn’t say, “Woe to those who only call some things evil.” If it goes against Scripture, we must speak up. The principles that should guide our speaking up are: prayer, humility, grace, logic, reason, and boldness. Nothing will defeat your argument before you make your first point like speaking like a crazed lunatic. Being loud doesn’t equal passion. We need to be humble enough to listen to the person, and respond in grace. At the same time, Christianity doesn’t mean that we check our brains at the door. It is logical and it is reasonable. This is why Paul tells us to always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks about the hope that is inside of us. We also need boldness to stand on our conviction, even if it isn’t popular. This goes back to the beginning of the post. Who will I lovingly obey? The world of Jesus?
By His grace and for His glory,