Have you thought much about where fear is disrupting your rhythm in life? Can you see the tentacles of fear that insidiously infect your thoughts and actions, and even more so, your re-actions? Fear is rampant in our lives. If you cannot see this, you’re just deluding yourself. I, too, resist the idea that fear is controlling my actions, but sadly, fear traps me more than I care to admit.
Jesus had much to say about fear. He is constantly encouraging us not to be afraid, just as he is constantly reassuring us that God is watching, and he cares about the details – your details. He often asked the disciples, “Why are you so afraid?” I can imagine his expression of wonder at their fear, and I can just imagine him thinking, “If you would just listen to me and see that my encouragement is not mere cheerleading, but based in reality – in the facts – there would be no room at the inn for fear in your life.”
Try this exercise: Place the following words in the appropriate order of importance to a follower of Jesus: feelings, facts, and faith. Most of us immediately place faith, first. But facts should be first, then faith, with feelings a distant third. You see our faith will waver and wobble, and then our feelings will jump in and take control. But if in these moments we focus on the facts— God is perfect, he is in perfect control, and he loves me perfectly—then our faith is grounded on the rock-solid foundation of the facts, not the slippery and deceiving sand of feelings.
Bette Midler sang out, “God is watching us, God is watching us,” and the gospel chorus sways us, lulling us into a warm and fuzzy feeling. But the song title blows it badly. God is not watching us “From a Distance.” Jesus’ first call to arms is a definitive reassurance that God is here with us, close by, and in control.
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)
The word for kingdom is better translated as reign, and is near is better translated as has come. Jesus is reassuring us that God is here, now, with us, and reigning. The King is not somewhere up in the castle, watching us from a distance, but on the ground and in control.
Now that is good news!