It seems there is a fear epidemic in the church today. It’s wide-spread, extremely contagious, and potentially fatal. The only vaccination for this epidemic is faith. Here are a few of the symptoms of the fear epidemic in the church.
Fear is destroying marriages right and left, even in the church. You ask, “How does fear destroy a marriage?” Listen to these sentiments:
“I feel like I’m trapped in a loveless marriage.”
“I’m afraid my children are going to be affected by our fighting all the time.”
“I’m afraid I may have married the wrong person.”
Stop letting fear tear your marriage apart! Faith means having the courage to do the right thing, in spite of how you feel about the situation. Have the courage to stick it out, to seek help, to stop fighting, to forgive, and to love.
“But what if my spouse doesn’t reciprocate my love and forgiveness,” you may ask. As Christians, we don’t do the right in order to motivate other people to do the right thing. We do the right thing to please God. We do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. That’s what faith is all about!
2. “Church Growth”
Fear is motivating many church leaders to resort to all kinds of strategies and gimmicks to try to grow their congregations. For instance, I constantly hear, “I’m afraid we’re going to lose all of our young people if we don’t do this.” So, they resort to changing the worship service to please young people.
When we are trying to please people – appealing to their carnal senses – with our worship services, it has ceased to be worship. Worship is not supposed to be a mechanism to draw people in or to keep people in the pews. Worship is supposed to be an expression of reverent gratitude from the saved to their Savior.
“But, I’m afraid our young people don’t enjoy worship services anymore,” some may protest. First, stop being afraid. And then examine your worship to God and ask questions like these:
- Are we honoring God with heart-felt worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)?
- Are we expressing genuine gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise?
- Is our enthusiasm for the risen Savior evident to all?
- Are we following God’s written New Testament pattern for our worship?
If you can answer “yes” to all of those questions, stop being afraid and start teaching your young people to appreciate worship for what it is. You don’t have to change worship to make it enjoyable; you need to change your heart to enjoy worship for what it is.
While we’re on the subject of pleasing people, isn’t it amazing how many doctrinal compromises people make because they’re afraid people won’t listen to the truth? Christianity isn’t the invention of man (2 Peter 1:20-21). We didn’t create it and so we can’t tinker with it. If people don’t like the truth, they’re welcome to reject it – but that doesn’t change the fact that it is still true.
I cannot change God’s word when it comes to divorce, baptism, homosexuality, abortion, or any other hot-button topic, just because I’m afraid someone won’t like it. I need to be loving and kind when I tell people the truth. But I can’t NOT tell them the truth because I’m afraid of what they might say or how they might feel.
4. Man-Made Tradition
How many man-made traditions do we hold on to because we’re afraid of what might happen if we change them? We realize they are probably not as expedient as they once were, but “we’ve always done it this way and people might be upset if we change it.” That is an attitude – not of faith – but of fear.
If the way you do something is no longer the best way to do it, then it needs to change. As Christians, we are obligated to fulfill God’s commands in the most expedient way possible and we need to fulfill that obligation with vigor. We need to constantly reexamine the way we do things and ask, “Is there a better, more biblical, and more efficient way to do this?”
Fear keeps us stuck in a rut and fear keeps us from boldly stepping out to say, “I know we’ve always done it that way, but wouldn’t this be more in keeping with God’s will?”
Faith Means Courage
It’s time we rid our pulpits, pews, homes, and heads of fear. It’s time we be filled up with faith. It’s time we stop letting fear motivate us to compromise, quit, or stagnate.
Consider the words of Christ in Revelation 2:10, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
The church doesn’t need cowards. The church needs men and women who will courageously walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Will you be a person of courageous faith?
I love you and God loves you,
P.S. If you’re in the Abilene area, we will begin a new series on this subject on May 11th at Baker Heights church of Christ and we would love for you to join us.