Ansell: Not a spirit of fear, but of power and love
David Platt in his book Counter Culture writes that the church should be full of “conviction, courage and compassion.” I’m down with that.
I was counseling a man a jillion years ago that was struggling in many ways. One night he told me that I scared his wife and that statement scared me. I don’t think of myself as a scary person, I’m a lover and not a fighter but I asked, “Why did I scare her?” This woman paid me a great compliment, she said, “I scared her because I was a man of conviction.” Wow! Thank you!
The Book of Job in the Old Testament reveals some deep thoughts to us that are hard to understand. God allowed Satan to take the lives of Job’s kids, Job lost his ranch and his personal health. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did, and that’s how I feel about the season we are currently living in.
COVID was bad enough, and just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, violent protests started happening (they are not all violent, some are good and for the right reasons), it’s an election year, Beirut, cancel culture, Hong Kong and now hurricane season. If my faith in a sovereign King was not as strong as it or if I thought the Rabbi had a sense of humor I would say, “Really Jesus! Come on man, lighten up.”
Who is it that said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I have a friend that tells me “they” are manipulating us through fear and I’m starting to believe him. We are scared of our own shadows. The fight is gone out of us and we have become a culture of milk toast.
Here is my point. I have convictions, strong beliefs and one of my beliefs is that the church does not have the “spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).” Fear is a driving force in our modern day culture. It inspires headlines, it runs the news cycle, it keeps us under our beds and it motivates us to do things we would not typically do. Fear is a favorite weapon of our enemy (Satan, he’s real) that is used to confuse us and sometimes causes us to be irrational. Fear creates misunderstandings and keeps us from fulfilling God’s will. We are told not to “conform to the patterns of the world (what they are telling us to believe) but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we will know God’s desires and what is right (Romans 12:2).”
What’s right right now? As the church we must ask what is right? What are the right things we should be doing in our world? What are we afraid to do because “they” have made us afraid? What is God’s will for this season?
Eugene Peterson paraphrases Romans 12:2 when he says, “Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, …” Of course you have to be submitted to His authority in your life and tell Chicken Little to go home (Away from me, Satan! - Jesus, Matthew 4:10) for this to become reality.
So get out from under the bed, be creative, go and be the church, be light, be salt, be that city on the hill. The Apostle Paul told the churches at Galatia, “do not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).” Pastor and author Shaun Nepstad says, “No matter how far you’ve wandered, start wherever you are.” Be a person of conviction, have courage and show compassion. Okay, enough preaching but He told me tell you that.