Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Four-Letter "F" Word

Oh yeah.  We're going there.  The four-letter "f" word grates on my nerves every time I hear it and I want to scream when people use it in any form.  When will adults develop a vocabulary that doesn't include that word?  I mean, it has it's place in society, I suppose, but it also can be a negative driving force.  So much of how we live revolves around that four letter word.  It's the cause of great stress in a stressed-out society.  We teach it to our children and they carelessly throw it around.  It's time to stop the madness and become civilized.  Civilized people and societies don't act out of ...you know the word.

Fear.  There, I said it.  That four-letter "f" word that can help us understand not to touch a stove because the burner may be turned on, hot, and will burn is the same word that will keep us from speaking up and singing out because someone else may not like what they hear.  Fear can keep good ideas squelched because the one with those ideas doesn't want to be laughed at.  Fear keeps us from moving forward because "forward" is equated with "future" and we don't know what the future holds so we'll hold on to the present...and yet as much as we may fear the future, we also fear the present.  Maybe that's why so many people try to hold on to the past...it's over and done with and no matter what the past was, we no longer fear it because it's over and we can now glorify it.  I've been in enough church meetings over the years, at various levels, and at various churches to know that "fear" is a four-letter "f" word that's holding the church back in many ways.
 

All through the Bible, God, angels, and Jesus have a way of popping up in the strangest ways and saying "Do not fear" at times when the unsuspecting person should definitely be fearful!  Ask Abraham, Moses, Mary, shepherds, and the disciples, to name a few.  Get a concordance and look up "afraid" and "fear."  Human nature says "fear and fear big."  God's nature says, "don't be afraid of what I tell you to do but have my peace."  Of all organisms on the face of the earth, why can't the Church see things God's way, take his word for it, and step out in peace without fear?

Fear shows up in many ways.  It shows up in the person who won't sing with the rest of the congregation (I'm not talking about singing a solo!) because they've been told they're tone deaf and they're afraid of offending people or of getting their feelings hurt if they sing.  So the God who gave them their voice and who wants to hear their voice, won't.  


It shows up in the congregation when people won't move beyond the doors into the community because the community no longer looks like them and they become afraid of who God might draw to them, or draw them to.  They become afraid of how they might change if they change.  Fear can sound sensible even if it's not.


It shows up in the committee, any committee, that pinches the penny to take care of the building and membership thinking that the building and membership are the church and thinking that that church will last if they pinch those pennies to take care of it all.  Fear puts forth a false definition of "church" and those pinched pennies are misspent because they aren't spent on the "church" at all.


Fear shows up when people forget who they are and who others are and Who the Christ is that they claim to represent and believe in.  Fear can goad Christians into not talking or acting Christian at all, even toward fellow church members, and fear blinds them into not being able to recognize their behavior.  Fear leads people into believing they must control everything and no one else has a say.  Fear is behind many a split church.  Fear is having a grand time in church and we're paying for the party.


Fear destroys.  Fear blinds.  Fear deafens.  Fear is defeatist.  Fear has no place in the church of all places.


So why is it the topic of "Attitude of Gratitude"?  Because I'm grateful for the space and opportunity to expose it.  To be a voice against it and to point out its existence, deviousness, divisiveness, and downright evilness.  


Once we recognize and speak against fear and recognize it for what it is, we can take steps to combat it.  We recognize where it comes from and then we have an educated choice to make: do we listen to God or are we ruled by fear?  If "fear" isn't from God, do we recognize where it comes from and who we are actually bowing to when we live by fear?  It isn't God!


God tells us "Do not be afraid" and "My peace I give you."


And I am grateful.