If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. Luke 9:23–24
Fear is a catalyst that drives people to make certain decisions. At times, these decisions may just be spontaneous reactions (e.g. fear of missing out can lead to trying out everything in life or committing to all gatherings). Other times, decisions may be coated by reasons that sound logical yet lack an honest justification or a well-rounded analysis of the facts (e.g. career insecurity may lead to working to exhaustion; relationship insecurity may lead to dating the wrong person or crossing boundaries).
In the movie, After Earth, Cypher Raige (played by Will Smith) illustrates what fear is when he taught his son survival lessons:
The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not exist at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. – After Earth
Like Cypher described, fear oftentimes dwells in our thoughts only. However, many times we put up a smoke screen to justify our actions as simply responding to real dangers instead of admitting we are choosing to feed the fear monster that lives in our inner imagination.
After getting to know Christ, it becomes clear that there is a greater danger each day. This danger is turning to ourselves, acting on our perception of fear and trying to save ourselves through these actions. The danger was very real in the Garden of Eden and is still very real in our modern lives. The danger in thinking our decisions are better than going after Him. I believe everyone can strive hard for anything, and may even succeed through diligence and perseverance. But the greater danger remains:
I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things in life that don’t matter. – William Carey
Not everyone is called to go to India like William Carey but everyone is called to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus. ‘For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?’ Luke 9:25. Nothing is more devastating than realising the things we tried so hard to succeed at on our own terms, may not actually matter on the day we stand before Jesus.
My prayer is that we as a church can challenge and encourage each other as we give our fears to the most gracious Father. When there is any anxiety about “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”, I pray we can take up our crosses together and live out our “633 motto” in seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Let us respond to fear by:
- Thanking God for His promises that we can find life by following Jesus alone. And that His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts.
- Asking God to rebuke us graciously when we respond to the wrong fear in life, and to teach us what it means to take up our cross personally.