July 5, 2019
Walkin' The Line Between Faith and Fear
This title of this blog is a line from a song that suddenly appeared in my mind this morning, and I think it best expresses what I have been reflecting on for the past few days. There are mornings when my husband and I sit down to pray together and my conversation with God is full of joy and thankfulness for all I see Him doing in the lives of people with whom He is working. Then there are the mornings that we find ourselves discouraged and asking for His wisdom and love to persist in reaching those who are blinded or lazy or disinterested in pursuing Him. Those conversations with the Father are always centered around the assignment He has given us while we are on this earth, and His message we are appointed to deliver.
Please do not mistake my thoughts for arrogance or pride; we are well aware that we are not the authority or judge of anyone else's walk with the Lord. But when you, yourself, are persistent in seeking that intimate, relational knowledge of Jesus through both experience and the Word, you want everyone to have that same encounter and come to Him in truth and spirit. But there are just times when it is clear that there is a spirit of deception or confusion, and yes, I'm going to say it ... a spirit of religion that is blocking true revelation. Their faith is evident, but so is their fear.
And I don't use that word fear in the sense of "awe" or "reverence". I mean that they hesitate to consider any new idea or revelation of God's Word because it makes them uncomfortable; it threatens the security of their soul (mind, free will, and emotions). They live in fear of failure (What if I don't get it right, or what if God doesn't work through me?); fear of deception (this is different from what I've been taught. What if it's wrong?); and fear of man (This is stepping away from my religious tribe. Will I be isolated or ostracized? Will I be excluded from the community of organized believers?).
But Jesus gave us two parables in Luke 18 that shatter these fears. The first is the Parable of the Persistent Widow. He tells of a widow who kept coming before an unrighteous judge, asking for justice against her adversary/oppressor. The worldly judge simply got tired of her repeated requests. He finally granted her petition for justice -- not out of a religious or moral compulsion -- but because "she keeps annoying me, demanding her rights, and I’m tired of listening to her." The point of the parable is soon made clear by Jesus, who says, Did you hear what the ungodly judge said—that he would answer her persistent request? When the Son of Man comes back, will He find this kind of persistent faithfulness in His people? The widow's relentless faith overcame any fear of failure or what the judge thought of her. She was single-minded in continuing to ask for what she needed and desired. Her faith did not depend on social norms or what was expected of her.
The other parable follows right after the Persistent Widow. It's the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Here we have a self-righteous religious leader who confidently stands before God, pointing out all the things he does right to please the Lord, while unjustly condemning the tax-collector, an outsider. On the other hand, the tax-collector, who would have been ostracized for daring to appear before the altar of the Lord at the same time as a Pharisee, practices his faith by humbly asking God to forgive him of his sins, showing not only his reverential faith, but the risk he was willing to take to express it [by daring to remain in the Temple in the presence of such an important religious leader].
I believe these parables display two of the Keys of the Kingdom that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 16:19. PERSISTENCE and RISK will propel a Believer into new realms of faith; beyond their comfort zone and scope of routine religion. Persistent faith ... constant, unending, tireless, determined people who never stop seeking more of Christ and revelation of His Word! They don't fear failure or deception because they hear their Shepherd's voice and are familiar with the Holy Spirit's presence, and are confident of His counsel. They never tire of asking for more and are persistent in their obedience to what He reveals, whether they fail or succeed in their mission. They are willing to take the risk of exclusion or rejection by others in order to receive more of Him. They are willing to run the risk of failure because they know the results are God's, not theirs.
Because they are persistent in asking for more -- and actually receive more -- they are willing to trust Jesus to take them to new heights of intimacy and authority and power. They don't get discouraged; they keep on knocking, knowing that they are called to endure and persevere. They have lost their fear of man [and what the religious community might say] a long time ago, because the riches of the Lord's revelations have led them to heights never imagined or experienced before they took the risk to trust Him. Walking alone doesn't deter their faith or their obedience. The Word of God is their guide and their foundation.
And I'm afraid that's where so many Christians fall short. I am amazed as we talk and counsel with people throughout our daily lives, just how many Christians do not read -- let alone experience, comprehend, or take hold of -- their Bibles. How can we profess to walk in faith [standing on a foundation of hope for the divine promises] if we don't even seek the One [who is the foundation] through His Word [which is His revelation of Himself]? No wonder Jesus said in Matthew 7, Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, will be like a wise man [a far-sighted, practical, and sensible man] who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them, will be like a foolish (stupid) man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods and torrents came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great and complete was its fall.”
The Scriptures were not written in the day He spoke those ominous words. The teachings were given orally, and one had to be conscientious to hear. Today, we have the benefit of the written Word -- the Word that we can read again and again and again, persistently asking for revelation as to how we are to "act on them" or "do them". There is no excuse for the Body of Christ not to know or do what He says. Are we just spiritually lazy? Or in our fears of becoming deceived, do we cling to what others say about what the will of God is? Remember that Jesus began this conversation in Matthew 7 by saying, Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."
That word "lawlessness" is many times translated "iniquity" which is a perverse rebellion against God and His will. These people thought they were doing God's will, with acts that mimicked righteousness. But as the following verses showed us, Jesus wants to be the [good and solid] foundation behind our actions, because we intimately know His heart through the revelation we have received from His Word. He wants authentic followers who know him through experiencing Him, not pretenders of a faith that will not stand against the storm that is coming.
I will tell you that this kind of deep introspection with Jesus in His Word can leave you walking a narrow and lonely road. But take heart! I am seeing more of His remnant coming out of hiding and out of religion into His Truth and Spirit. The numbers may not be large, but the conviction and the resiliency is steadfast and devoted. The remnant is aligning together and speaking His Biblical Truth, causing lives to be dramatically changed as they walk and talk boldly of the power and majesty and authority of the Lord Jesus to transform the earth for His glory. I pray that the line between Faith and Fear dissolves as He equips those He calls; those whose faith will overcome fear, blindness, laziness, the restraints of religion, and the lies of the Enemy in order to see His Kingdom, His power, and His glory reign forever. Amen!
Ephesians 1:17 I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to you the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation [discovery] to know Him through your deepening intimacy with Him [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight into the true knowledge of Him].