Continuing . . . From Jerry Sittser and Fear:

When I was a college chaplain, I received a call one night from a student who asked me to visit him in his dorm room. I was not happy about being called at 2:00 a.m. But he said it was important, so I went to his room. When I arrived I was surprised to find ten students who wanted to talk to me about (a particular movie), which they had just watched together. They were utterly terrified by the movie. We talked for two hours. I came away from the conversation feeling disappointed, not because the students were afraid but because they overcame their fear so easily. I wished they had fear for a while longer. Certain powers in the world should make all of us shudder. It is to our peril that we think they are silly.

The Bible has a lot to say about human fear. The secret to overcoming fear is not to deny or dismiss it but to order it properly. In other words, we should fear the right things. A sense of proportion helps. We should fear the loss of a child more than failure in a job, sickness more than pain, hell more than death. And we should fear God most of all, because only he has ultimate and final authority over life and death. Jesus said, “I tell you my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you who to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4-5)

As we fear God more, we will fear everything else less. (Romans 8:31-39) One big fear will mitigate all lesser ones. The famous seventeenth century philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote, “There is virtuous fear which is the effect of faith, and vicious fear which is the product of doubt and mistrust. The former leads to hope as relying on God, in whom we believe; the latter inclines to despair…. Persons of the one character fear to lose God; those of the other character fear to find him.”4

. . . .The New Testament provides a useful perspective. It teaches that healthy fear of God–“awe” or “reverence” are perhaps better words—will actually mitigate our fears, even of God. The most common greeting angels imparted to people was “Fear not!” Jesus spoke with paradox when he commanded us to fear God, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”(Acts 13:1-3) ~Jerry Sittser, the Will of God as a Way of Life (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, 2000, 2004). 132-35

Coming. . . The Problem With Worry

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