Worries and Fears – by Greg Albrecht
Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. – Arthur Somers Roche A study conducted about why people worry revealed:
- 40% of the things people worry about never happen.
- 30% of the things people worry about already happened.
- 12% of the things people worry about concern their health.
- 10% of the topics that people worry about are somewhat trivial.
- 8% of the worries that people have are legitimate.
One man summed up his philosophy of worry like this:
“I only worry about two things. The two worries I have right now are whether I will continue to enjoy good health or whether I will get sick. If I remain well, I have nothing to worry about. If I get really sick, then I still only have two things to worry about – whether I will recover from the illness or whether I will die. If I die, I still have only two things to worry about – whether I go to heaven or to hell. If I go to heaven, I’ve got nothing to worry about. If I go to hell, I’ll be so busy spending time with all my friends I won’t have any time to worry. So why worry?”
Worry and fear are part of what it means to be a human, and they will never completely disappear. Some fears are justified and healthy – for that reason we don’t touch hot stoves and we watch carefully before crossing a busy street. But other fears are spiritually unhealthy and lead us away from Jesus – we are haunted by sins of our past and we fear the uncertainties of the future.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a la-la land of idyllic hopes and dreams where everyone always lives “happily ever after.” The gospel of Jesus Christ leads and guides real people with real problems as they follow Jesus. A Christ-centered faith is all about listening to and confronting fear and worry – it’s all about how the grace of God interacts with our fear and worry. As Christ-followers, we are not assigned the task of achieving the impossible dream of banishing our fears. Rather, our faith in God, our trust in Jesus and the grace of God engage our fears from a Christ-centered perspective.
When Jesus says “fear not” (or in more modern translations “do not be afraid” or “do not worry”), he is teaching us to bring our fears into perspective with the grace, peace, mercy and forgiveness of God. Jesus does not hide his eyes from fear – Jesus doesn’t pretend that fear doesn’t exist. Jesus doesn’t believe in banishing fear by refusing to admit that it exists. Jesus advises us to place our fears into the context of the greater love, grace and mercy of God – and indeed, in Christ, all fears will be overcome. God’s love and grace is greater than the sum of all fears and worries!
When our fears and worries threaten to overwhelm us, it may well be that we are listening to political pundits and religious soothsayers more than we are to our Heavenly Father.
Isaiah asks rhetorically, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2). Jesus teaches us to ask our gracious God to “give us this day our
daily bread” (and the prayer is not simply a request for physical bread, but of the spiritual Bread of Jesus). But that daily prayer, with a focus on the love of our heavenly Father, is corrupted by those who prey upon us, the gods of big religion, big business, big government and big media who relentlessly attack us with “our daily dread.”
Our nations are driven by and addicted to fear. Fear drives the machines of religion and politics. Fear manipulates, exploits and enslaves. God’s love drives out the fear that leads to punishment (1 John 4:18). By contrast, the love of God leads to forgiveness, peace and rest in Christ. We need not fear that God’s grace is not waiting around the next corner to ambush and beat us up. Since God’s grace is not beating us up, then it stands to reason that we should, as we trust God and accept his grace and forgiveness, stop beating ourselves up.
Your past – my past – is just that. It’s over. God is not holding anything over our heads. Others might do that. Institutionalized religion often holds shameful secrets of our past over our heads – foibles and follies for which God has already forgiven us. Fear religion twists our perspective of God – from a loving father to a monster God – dangling our feet over the flames of an imaginary ever-burning eternal inferno into which its twisted god will supposedly throw us if we fail to measure up. Preaching about hell is a manipulative fear tactic – it has nothing to do with the grace and love of God.
Politicians seeking power and those who have momentarily gained it blame the other party who held power before them, while the party now out of power waits its turn to fire back with similar accusations, so that they may place blame at the door of the other political party. Political parties and their candidates warn you and me in no uncertain terms of catastrophe here and now if we don’t vote for them.
Politics, it seems, is basically a contest to see which party is best at making us afraid.
I am sick of bad news religion and I am sick and tired of bad news politics. I’ve been asked who I will vote for in the upcoming presidential election. I still haven’t decided if I will even vote in this election – it seems such an exercise in futility. If you are interested, I will provide this NEWS FLASH providing another way I look at my vote. My vote is in. I vote for Jesus.
There is no debate. The Lord is King. My hopes are totally in him. I’m done with human institutions that artificially attempt to keep me enslaved by fear and uncertainty while they use and abuse me. I will not live in fear. I am, by God’s grace, free in Christ. So are you.
Because we are free in Christ, we are no longer tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).
God’s grace leads us to his peace. God’s grace leads us to rest in Christ. This does not mean that we are oblivious to the horrendous evils and the ever-encroaching corruption in our world! We are not blind to the darkness in our world, but our focus as Christ-followers is not on human saviors to save us from this mess. As Christ-followers we have dismissed human saviors, whether they are wrapped in the uniform of the military, whether they are beating the drum of a particular political party or whether they are cracking the whip of religion to “keep us in line.”
In the passage in Ephesians that I just mentioned, Paul says that those who are free in Christ are no longer tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching… Paul does not pretend that there are no waves or that hurricane level winds can’t blow in our lives. He does say that those waves and those winds do not completely regulate and control the lives of Christ-followers.
With the winds of fear, worry and doubt in mind, perhaps we might think of the grace of God as leading and guiding us so that we may fly in those winds somewhat like a glider. God’s grace lifts us and inspires us so that we set our hearts on things above (Colossians 3:1).
We are continually being exploited and manipulated by those who use our basic fears as a means to achieve and gratify their own greed and lust for power. But God’s grace will help us rise above fear, anger, condemnation, accusations, polarizing religion and politics.
Two of my doctors told me that they have decided to give up listening to and reading the angry voices that permeate our media, because they are all about anger, futility and hopelessness. I have many friends who limit their exposure to the angry voices of the media (on both ends of the spectrum). I have many others who say they will never again sit in a church building and be manipulated by fear and intimidation – as long as they are given a warped view of God. I have friends (some of you) who have told me they had to leave their brick-and-mortar church in order to follow Christ.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, by his grace, God has given us his kingdom. Let us rest in Christ, let us enjoy the peace of God and let us rely on God’s grace to lift, inspire and propel us through the storms of life.
By the grace of God,
Friend and Partner Letter from September 2016