Fear is an interesting concept in Christianity. We are to “fear” God, but that does not mean we should be afraid of God. Okay, that may be a bit simplistic, but the more poetic or academic descriptions or contrasts can be just as simplistic in some ways. In other ways they may be simply confusing. At least they were to me when I reviewed the writings of several different pastors and theologians concerning fear.
My problem however, is not with fearing God. At least I do not think that is the problem. My fear is misinterpreting or misunderstanding what God is telling me. Whether one is speaking of understanding God through Scripture or understanding God through signs, visions, or an “ah ha” moment during prayer, I wonder if I am deluding myself when I think God has given me a sign.
A human being is the only creature in God’s creation that can lie to itself.* For example, some of us stand in front of the mirror in the morning and see physical or other flaws where none exist. Then there are those who know flaws exist, especially character flaws, yet convince themselves they are just fine.
King David was an excellent example of this trait. David spent a great deal of time asking God’s forgiveness, because of his wrongdoing. Some might argue David did not understand what he was doing when he sinned against God, but if that is true David had to be the dumbest king who ever existed. Take the example of David’s plan to build the temple.
David’s decision that he should build a temple was the height of arrogance and stupidity. Yes, David was a man after God’s own heart, but he had sinned in numerous ways including murder. Yet, he was able to convince himself and Nathan he was the man to build the temple. The result was God admonishing them both. Thankfully, He still loved David, and it was from the line of David God brought Jesus into the world.
Currently, I seem called to do something in God’s name. If He is calling me, then I will have the opportunity to help others find their way back to their faith, or find their faith for the first time. The problem is, like David the sins in my life are numerous. Yes, I found my way back after straying far from the path I started walking as a child. Yet, am I like David? Is God wanting to use me as a messenger, or are my arrogance and pride pushing me to do something that He would not want?
It is in moments such as this one’s faith is tested. Fear of both God and man can convince us we should not take risks such as David almost took. Yet faith should lead us to believe whatever happens is part of God’s plan. If we suffer for a decision, He is trying to teach us something. Our job is to learn from those mistakes, not hide from them.
Still, I lay awake at night wondering if in my own small way I am a David, pushing my agenda not His. Then I wonder if I am allowing my fear of those who may attack me keep me from following God’s plan for me. Which way am I lying to myself, and what do I do?
In the end, if my faith is strong, I will move forward and see what happens. If I succeed, that was God’s plan. If I fail, He was teaching me another lesson. And there lies the question, just how strong is my faith?
*Some nitpickers may argue humans are the only part of God’s creation that can lie at all. Anyone believing that defines the term lie too narrowly, and has little knowledge of the rest of God’s creation. Other creatures may not be able to speak or think a lie, but they can certainly be untruthful and deceptive in their appearance and actions.
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