I’ve rappelled off of 100-foot ledges, jumped into scalding hot springs, spoken in front of crowds in the thousands, leapt out of a plane, trekked deep into the mountainous wilderness and helped free a demon-possessed man. Fear lost.
I’ve changed blowout diapers, started a business from scratch, backpacked across Europe, carried a close friend’s casket and lived in a foreign country without knowing the language. Fear lost.
So why is it that there is one arena where fear still tries to stand it’s ground? What is it about the fear of man that still grips me and tries to make me forget who I am, what I’m about and that I serve an Almighty, Alpha and Omega kind of God?
My Fear Snapshot
Just in case the fear of man sounds like an elusive idea to you, or a distant concept that you are convinced doesn’t apply to you, I wanted to give you a sneak peek at what this fear looks like in my life.
The fear of man shows up when I’m at work and I have a deadline to meet, a meeting that I’m almost or already late for, a loving wife who needs me home by 5pm and a growing inbox of emails from clients wondering why it’s Tuesday and I haven’t responded to their messages from the weekend.
The fear of man focuses his efforts on those conversations where someone is communicating that I’ve let them down. His expectations of me are always a little higher than my actual capabilities. He reminds me that I don’t have what it takes and points out that no one is impressed and everyone is counting on me.
That’s a snapshot of what my fear of man looks like. He’s a jerk and a liar.
In my life, I’ve set my vision on Christ. He is my goal and my example. So, while I don’t pompously try to compare my silly daily trials with His ultimate sacrifice, I do find solace in the fact that Christ encountered a moment in the Garden of Gethsemane that required a knock-down, drag-out fight with fear.
As Jesus was wrestling with the impending decision to offer himself up freely as a sacrifice for the sin of mankind, it may not have been the fear of man alone that was waging battle, but I can imagine that He felt a similar feeling as we do when fear attacks. It’s the feeling that dark and ominous walls are closing in all around us and our imminent demise is awaiting, just moments away.
Servant of Christ
Knowing that Jesus faced fear head on and was victorious gives me hope of my own victory against the fear of man. Christ’s own words to his disciples where:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
Paul tells the churches of Galatia that if he “were still trying to please men, [he] would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) A dear brother of mine just preached on the fear of God and made the strong argument in line with this; the fear of God is freedom from any other fears we might have, be it death, heights, sickness, rejection or inadequacy.
At the Core
The core lie of the fear of man is an attack on our identity. It says, “You’re not enough and soon enough, everyone around you is going to find and and be disappointed.”
The first step to answer an identity lie is to look at the One whose image we bear: God our maker. When our view of God is correct, and Christ is the image of God in the form of man, we’re in a position to have right perspective.
The next step is to believe what God says about us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. No heights nor depths can separate us from His love. He is the only one that is worth pleasing.
Finally, I allow myself to mentally fail. I role play what it would look like to let everyone down. Standing there in my mind, as a failure in the eyes of all around me, I recognize that in the end only God’s opinion of me matters. I can’t please everyone. The only approval that matters is God’s.
As I am reminded of who God is, who He thinks I am and that my worth and value does not come from what others think of me… I win. Fear lost.
In the end, fear lost
In the end, death loses, sin loses and pain loses, because Christ won. Love won. He won in the Garden of Gethsemane. He won on Calvary. He wins every time in my heart. And Fear? Fear has nothing on you — fear has nothing on me. Jesus won. Fear lost.