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Why Are There So Many Fearful Christians?

June 14, 2016

This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s booklet Women of Faith in a Culture of Fear, to be released in e-book format mid-June. The booklet format will be available at The Gospel Coalition’s women’s conference this week. Visit the UTB booth to get your copy!

Sometimes it seems that there is as much fear in the church as there is in the world. When Peter says, “Do not fear what they fear” (1 Peter 3:14), your honest response may be to say, “That sounds great, but I’m not there.”

Why are we not there? Why are there so many fearful Christians? Why are we not more obviously different from the culture of fear in which we live?

The answer is that the self-exalting spirit of the world has widely permeated the church.

Think about the great social issues at the center of so much controversy in our time: Abortion, gender, marriage, and, increasingly, euthanasia. One thing ties them together: We have been assuming for ourselves the right to do the things that belong to God.

We want to determine the beginning of life: Which children should come to birth and which should not see the light of day. We want to make gender a matter of personal choice. We want to define what marriage is and who it is for and, with the same frame of mind, we want the right to determine the time and circumstances of our own death.

But these are the things that belong uniquely to God. In the Bible, God brings about the beginning of life. God makes us male and female. God tells us what marriage is. God determines the time and the circumstances of our death.

The heart of our sinful condition is that we put ourselves in the place of God. In our relentless desire to take the place of supreme authority, we have sought to remove God from the throne, and to occupy it ourselves. We have welcomed and embraced the satanic proposal first put forth in the Garden of Eden, “You shall be as God,” and now are finding, to our consternation, that “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” To whom can we look for help if we ourselves are on the throne? In whom can we trust in times of trouble if we are the ones who reign supreme? The person who puts him or herself in the place of God will soon find that they are besieged with fear.

What is the Christian response to a world in which women and men are increasingly putting themselves in the place of God?

The first thing to say is that the cultural Christianity that pervades our country can offer no response whatsoever because it has been infected by the same disease as the world it seeks to cure.

Many who would own the name “Christian” have been shaped by a diminished gospel that says, “God loves you, and all you have to do is say yes to him, and then you will be safe, secure, and blessed forever.” So people say yes to God, and then spend the rest of their lives in some degree of irritation or resentment that this God, to whom they have said yes, has not made their lives as they would want them to be.

Do you see what is happening here? While calling ourselves Christians, we still seat ourselves on the throne of our lives and view God as the one who exists to serve us by making our lives as we want them to be. And woe to him if he does not meet our expectations!

This is why I say that the church has, in large measure, been permeated by the self-exalting spirit that pervades our culture, with the result that there is often as much fear in the church as there is in the world.

The first step in your fight-back against fear is to relinquish the throne and submit yourself to the sovereign Lord who made you, loves you, and lays claim to your life.

fearful Christians

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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