2016 will be a defining year for Christianity.
The year we let fear drive.
The year we let fear lead.
The year we let fear dictate
and our votes.
This is the year we let fear overthrow our faith, and Christianity will lose its identity in the aftermath.
When Fear Drives…We Get Lost
Fear causes us to forget who we are and forget where we’re going. This year we have become guardians, defending tradition and doctrines. We’ve abandoned our tasks as gardeners, failing to cultivate and nourish our neighborhoods and our relationships with agenda-less generosity and compassion. Fear has hardened our hearts and turned us inward.
We have become spokesmen and spokeswomen of who’s in and who’s out. We have lost our first love and replaced it for being right. Fear speaks first and serves last, or serves just so it can speak, instead of serving for goodness sake.
When we follow fear we wander away from Jesus, and his way is the last thing on our mind or our feed. We’re lost.
When Fear Drives…We Go Too Far In The Wrong Direction
Once lost, fear won’t let us turn around–repent–because we’re afraid the way back, or the right way, may be wrong. Or it might just be judged and condemned and blasted on Facebook. We become too affiliated with a party or a denomination or a view point or an opinion or an interpretation that it’s the only voice of God we can hear.
Any other way or possibility becomes nothing more than something else to fear.
When Fear Drives…We Will Wreck
When fear leads, we’ll be known by nothing more than the lyrics of a Derek Webb song:
They’ll know us by the t-shirts that we wear
They’ll know us by the way we point and stare
At anyone whose sin looks worse than ours
Who cannot hide the scars of this curse that we all bare
they’ll know us by our picket lines and signs
They’ll know us by the pride we hide behind
Like anyone on earth is living right
And isn’t that why Jesus died
Not to make us think we’re right
We’ll be known for slamming everything: Hillary, Trump, Joel Osteen, liberals, conservatives, Christians who are not like us, abortion, war, dancing, wine, Jen Hatmaker, MTV, CNN, NPR, pop music, processed food, global warming, gays, Oprah, tattoos, video games, Rob Bell, grown men who live with their parents, self-help, bi-racial relationships, single moms, Mark Driscoll, transgender, too much candy, quirky theology, women in leadership, and lists that a too short of things we don’t approve of.
We’ll be known for what we oppose, instead of the blessing we offer everyone.
When Fear Drives…We Can’t Enjoy The Ride
When we’re afraid of the dashboard lights going off all the time, we’ll never delight in the scenery.
If we drop the metaphor, fear will cause us to miss God because we’ll just be afraid of making him mad all the time. When we live by fear we can’t have joy. They can’t co-exist in the same space. Fear is a vacuum that removes wonder, joy, delight, and love from every space it fills.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
When you live in fear of God, it’s impossible to experience the love of God (and share it with others).
We’re not the first to act this way.
A couple years ago, Jesus was asleep in a boat with his disciples, and they were freeeeeeeeeeaking out in the throws of a storm swirling around them. We are in the same boat. 2016 was the year we peed our pants of faith and abandoned all we believed in, while he was in our very midst. (Many Christians believe that the Spirit of Jesus resides within them.) We have forgotten he’s in the boat, and we’re fearfully trying to calm the storm on our own, instead of extending comfort and peace to those who are paralyzed by fear all around us.
We have not been given a spirt of fear, so stop quoting that verse until you can act like you believe it. Or at least fake it ’til you make it.
Stop letting fear drive. Let love drive instead.
Maybe we’ll start following Jesus again in 2017.