FEAR AND TREMBLING
“Continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12
What’s that supposed to mean? I thought we weren’t supposed to be afraid. Perfect love drives out fear and all that. What gives?
There is a lot of fear going on right now. First, there was fear of an unknown virus pandemic that is dangerous to individuals and our hospital systems. Then came the fear of what this is doing to our economy. Now there is fear that we are losing more of our freedoms to the government. All of these are very real fears, but they are magnified by the media. The news media and the social media make them bigger in our minds.
Fear is focus
My navy chaplain friend Jonathan Stephens said to me, “fear is focus.” He meant, what you fear captures your attention. You see everything through the lens of what you fear. Once you fear the virus, it becomes all you think about. When you fear economic loss, you see everything through that lens. Fear of the government taking away your rights can make every conspiracy theory seem plausible. What is the antidote?
A bigger focus for your fear and trembling
This brings me back to Paul’s comment to the Philippians about fear and trembling. The fear and trembling that occupied his mind was the ever present, immense, wise, sovereign, almighty powerful presence of God. It’s temple language. In the presence of God, every other fear gets smaller.
A lion seems scary until Godzilla shows up. Renegade viruses, shutdown economies, overreaching governors and even sinister plots of secret societies seem scary until God shows up. And God never left. We just let smaller things capture our attention and become our fear. We need a bigger fear.
“Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.
The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.” Isaiah 8:12-13
The good news is, while God’s presence should so overwhelm your vision that you have fear and trembling at his immense glory and power, he is on your side. Forever he has shown in Christ that he is for you. So the one you have most to fear is the one who most conquers all your fears.
Sunday I will have more to say on this. Tune in on our YouTube channel early for our 8:45 AM service. The announcements and some testimonies will be in the 10-15 minutes before the service starts and you can chat with each other there. We are not posting another service at 10:45 AM so if you are used to attending at that time, you can just watch when you get there.