Ansell: Fear can be a strong match for faith
I think a lot (I’m a pastor — it’s what I do). Some might say, I overthink things (even the Blonde at times). Nothing transformative happens as I reflect but I’m hopeful. I’m conservative and I’m uptight but I love God and I love people so I strive to leave room for the Holy Spirit to work. I try not to crowd God out with “my rules” for holy living (in my line of work we call this “self-righteousness”).
I’ve been thinking a lot about a friend of mine. Jennifer and I pray for him often at our kitchen table but we see very little change in his life. He’s a lot like “the woman at the well.” We don’t think much about people like her in today’s culture. When John (John 4) wrote about who she was and what she did, it was considered scandalous. Now who she was and what she did has become normal for us. In that sense, sadly, the story has lost its context.
Here’s the truth. My friend and the woman at the well really aren’t much different than the rest of us. What I mean is our sin might be more socially acceptable or hidden better but at the end of the day we all need to do business with God by confessing our failures. I needed Jesus and I need Jesus, right?!
My friend is afraid of what will happen if he follows Jesus beyond the doors of the church building. In other words what if he really started following Jesus. The cost would be great for my friend and I get it. Fear can be a strong match for faith and sin can be a great security blanket. If you told the truth you might say that you relate and you’re scared, too.
Too many like to confess, “Oh, I’m a sinner. I sin every day.” I think that’s pride, at least it’s false humility and I doubt God finds much pleasure in that statement. I guess for some to acknowledge that they sin is a move in the right direction, maybe the next step is to say what the specific sin(s) is (are)? Is it so hard to say, “I’m not just a sinner but I have a problem with ____________.”
I had a friend named Mark, he's no longer with us, but Mark was a recovering alcoholic (he was a big time Christian, too) and I went with him to support him at an AA meeting once. It was just like on TV, people stood up and said, “My name is Mark and I’m an alcoholic.” There was something very authentic and liberating in those admissions. No one winced when the truth was told out loud it was very real, nothing fake. Can you imagine doing that at a “church meeting?” For those who want revival, let me encourage you — revival starts with you. He told me to tell you that.