Another excerpt from "Peace on Earth?" By David May
What is the Proper Place for Fear in our Lives?
“God is bigger than the boogie man,
He’s bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV,
Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man,
And he’s watching out for you and me- ee-ee, hey!”
- Junior Asparagus
Enough said. God is indeed bigger than anything in this world that we might choose to be afraid of. Jesus has overcome the world. He said so. And he tied that directly to his desire that we be at peace in the world. He was not talking about some esoteric peace in the sky bye and bye. In the same verse where he spoke of us having peace, he mentioned our troubles in the world and then affirmed that he has overcome the world. That is where our peace comes from. He is our shepherd and our guardian and he is in charge!
In 1 John the author is talking about contrary spirits, those who would deny the divinity of Christ. In the middle of that conversation he confirmed that because we are from God we have overcome those spirits, “because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.” That has to be the text for Junior Asparagus’ little reassuring song about God being bigger than the boogie man. Junior, by the way is one of the characters in the Veggie Tales series. I’d love to watch those writers at work some day. They must have a great time.
We are overcomers!
One chapter after the “Greater is he” quote, John reiterates: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
We are believers and we have nothing to be afraid of. But sometimes we act in ways that deny the truth of that fact. Particularly to outsiders, we tend to look very afraid. We are afraid someone is taking our country in the wrong direction. We are afraid of the collapse of the American dream. We are afraid of Al- Qaeda and other terrorists. We are afraid that immigrants will ruin the good deal we’ve got – a better deal than most anyone else in the world. What we fail to understand is that God is bigger than all of that and more. And he is on our side. He has our back.
Why are we afraid?
Why are we afraid? Because we don’t trust. And because of how we view this world in which we live. Have we never really sung and believed the old song “This world is not my home”? We have put down roots here; unlike Abraham who just packed up and moved when God said “Go” without even knowing where he was headed.
I love this nation. It is the best deal we could find or build on this earth. Could it be better? For sure. Could it be worse? Are you kidding? Have you read a newspaper or watched the news in the last ten years? In fact that’s what we are afraid of, isn’t it? That we will become what we read about in the rest of the world. Yet we need to understand that America is a part of the material world. Sisters and brothers, America is not our home. We are ”…Just a passing through. Our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”
We have been commissioned to make America as loving a place as we possibly can, but we are not charged with preventing its financial or military collapse. If we finish our lives sneaking around on Sundays to meet with other Christians for worship in order to avoid arrest by the ruling Muslim powers, we should understand that God is still in charge. And we can continue being his loving people is spite of what else is going on around us. Just like the little bird, singing away in the middle of the cat 5 storm.
Do not be afraid
For us not to be afraid must be one of the most persistent parts of God’s message to us. He must have understood the difficulty of that request. Over 60 times in the Old Testament he said to mankind, “Do not be afraid.” And again in the New Testament he kept saying it, “Do not be afraid.” Whether it was through Moses speaking to the people as they were preparing to go in and take the promised land, or through an angel appearing to Mary to tell her of her future the message was the same: we are not to be a fearful people. Reassuring the Israelites, Moses, speaking for God said, “He will not fail you or forsake you.” That is still his reassurance to us today and his reminder of why it is that we are afraid. We are afraid because we do not trust that God will truly take all of what is happening in our horrible lives right now and will work it together for our good. But he will. He promised. And he keeps his promises.
When the disciples woke Jesus up on the boat to calm the stormy sea, he had to calm his students first. “Why are you afraid?” he asked. And he accused them of being of little faith. You see that is the answer. We are afraid because our faith is weak. Our trust is weak. And when we are afraid, whether it is because of big scheme political reasons, or over the potential loss of a loved one to sickness or divorce, or because of the potential for financial loss or loss of face among our friends or coworkers, we need to ask God to increase our faith. And we should ask our friends to pray the same prayer for us.
Courage has to be a major part of the peace Jesus wanted to leave us with. But it is not a courage that comes from being sure of ourselves and our own abilities. When Moses spoke to Israel just before they went in to conquer the promised land, he told them to be strong and courageous, not because they were a powerful army or because the enemy was weak, but because God was going with them. He told them not to be afraid or tremble at their enemy. “He will not fail you or forsake you,” Moses said. God says we don’t have anything to be afraid of because he has our back.