Friday, January 29, 2010

Fear Factor

“Don't be afraid!" Moses replied. "God has come only to test you, so that by obeying him you won't sin."

-- Exodus 20:20

Are you one of the millions of Americans with a phobia – a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger? Maybe it’s something common like claustrophobia (the fear of enclosed areas) or aviophobia (the fear of flying) – or perhaps one of the biggest fears of them all: glossophobia (speaking in public). But you also wouldn’t be alone if you suffer from galeophobia (the fear of cats) or even coulrophobia (the fear of clowns). And what about folks diagnosed with panophobia? They have a fear of everything!

Christ-followers aren’t immune from phobias. But it might surprise you to know that some suffer from zeusophobia -- a fear of God. To be fair, maybe it’s more accurate to say that many Christ-followers aren’t so much afraid of God as they are of saying yes to Him. One of the problems is that we too often think of God as a cosmic consultant offering well-intentioned suggestions rather than the all-knowing Creator who made us, loves us and wants only the best for us. When you get down to it, saying no to God is perhaps the most basic definition of sin. And human beings have been doing just that since those early days of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

We know in our heads and our hearts that God loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that he sent His only Son to die on the cross to pay for all our failures in life. So with this in mind, why would anyone say no to God?

First, saying no and playing it safe is a basic human instinct. Fleeing from danger (real or perceived) makes perfect sense when we consider our innate desire for self-preservation. We also can say no to God when He calls us to do something uncomfortable or inconvenient. And that seems to be more often than not. Maybe it’s His call to help a neighbor who’s between jobs, drive a shut-in to the grocery store or talk with a co-worker who’s approaching a spiritual crossroads. Taking that first step can be awkward, difficult – and sometimes scary.

But maybe selfishness is the biggest reason so many people say no to God. After all, saying yes to Him usually means saying no to us. But be forewarned: When we say no and turn our backs to God, we need to prepare for a certain level of spiritual storminess and turmoil. God knows what He wants and How He wants to do it. So it’s only fitting that we’ll often find ourselves in a much worse situation after our refusal than if we had just said yes to Him in the beginning. As the old saying goes, sometimes we need to feel the heat before we can see the light.

Are you afraid to say yes to God? You’re not alone. And He’d like to talk with you about it.

“God's Spirit doesn't make us slaves who are afraid of him,” the Apostle Paul tells us through the Book of Romans. “Instead, we become his children and call him our Father.”

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