Addicted to fear.
Strange right? Why would anybody be addicted to fear? And I don’t mean adrenaline junky. I mean FEAR.
The definition of addiction is “a strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something”.
I am addicted to fear. Along with most of the world. Society has become obsessed with having the most graphic and current updates of the horror that has become the daily news. You can’t even escape it at your local restaurant with its 8 television screens. I don’t watch the news on TV, but I do check a news page on the Internet up to a dozen times a day – no exaggeration. It can be 10 times an hour if there is something major going on.
And I don’t just casually check the news. Many times I drill down and find out details. Details about the pastor’s wife that was recently shot in her own home, or the folks that were killed in San Bernardino, or the Christians being targeted and beheaded on the other side of the world.
Addiction has to do with going back to something that you don’t want to do.
Something that’s bad for you.
Something that hurts you.
You keep craving it and needing it.
The funny thing is, I wouldn’t say I like to be afraid. I hate being afraid. But if you were to look at my online history, you would think otherwise.
Why would we be so attached to CNN if we weren’t somehow addicted to what it was peddling?
I thought I was the only one that was afraid in our current world climate. The only one that sat in church and strategized about where I would hide if a shooter came in with guns blazing (I would dive under the stage for your information). Or how I would cope if someone went into the children’s area and took out a classroom of kids like at Sandyhook.
But then, in one day, I met three other people that are fearful to the same degree. People who expect to be targeted at large church events. People who sit up in the middle of the night thinking about how to handle a terrorist situation if it met them at Target, or in a Starbucks, or at 35,000 ft. in an airplane. Where would I hide? When would I run? What about my children? And they don’t just think about it. They run through scenario after scenario until their stomachs are twisted up and Fear is wrapped around them like a Boa Constrictor. It becomes hard to breathe. Hard to think straight. Hard to see God.
Would any of us say that this is healthy? No. Is this the abundant life we have been called to live?
Not even close.
Christians don’t have to cower in fear as if we have no Hope, as if we have no Help, as if we have no God. My pastor once said that Christians should be Hope Dispensers, like the Purell dispensers in WalMart. People should be able to come up to us and get a dose of hope, wringing their hands together with the invisible substance saying “thank you SO much, I needed that today!!”
But we are failing in many ways. We may attend church on Sundays and sing about our strong God and loving Savior, but we can be just as guilty of after-church conversations centered on fear, terrorism, or catastrophe.
The reality is, the news right now has a lot of scary headlines. If you let him, Satan will use them to manipulate you into believing that you can’t even leave your house without running into terror.
But Jesus didn't save us from death so we could be bound by the fear of death.
So what are we to do?
In the bible it is mentioned more than 80 times to FEAR NOT. And another 30+ times DO NOT FEAR.
But how do we NOT FEAR? We start by replacing fear with something else.
Strength and courage.
Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
God was calling Joshua to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. There would be challenges. There would be push back. There would be fear to overcome.
And so God told Joshua the same things He tells you today. In the middle of the world’s mess. In the middle of your fears.
Do not tremble. (the word implies trembling out of terror)
Do not be dismayed. (shattered/broken)
He is saying don’t be terrified. Don’t let fear shatter you.
Because I am with you wherever you go.
In church, on an airplane, in a movie theater.
YHWH is with you. The Holy Spirit is IN YOU.
Sometimes we just have to make the decision to not be afraid.
In the movie Braveheart, there is a scene where William Wallace has his face painted blue, and he is full of the crazy bravery that comes from believing in something bigger than the fear. Bigger than the oppression.
Wallace believed in freedom. And for freedom he ran into battle.
I want to attack fear like Braveheart. I want to run into battle, face painted, holding high the standard of Jesus Christ - knowing full well I am backed by the armies of God. I want to have crazy bravery, and a faith like Esther that simply says “If I perish, I perish”.
If my soul is safe in the Father’s hands, then really, what can man do to me?
Aren’t you tired of being pushed around by FEAR? Are you ready to approach fear like Braveheart? Are you ready to take ground against the evil tyrant that has controlled you and oppressed you? Are you ready to say NO MORE?
Me too, so say this with me:
“Lord, fill me with the crazy bravery that comes from believing in something (and someONE) bigger than the fear.
If we don’t start living our lives on the offense, we will be taken out at the knees in fear. We have to get our face paint on and run onto the battlefield, using our weaponry of scripture, the sword of the Spirit, and our shield of faith.
I am DONE sitting on the sidelines, cowering in fear. I am through with allowing Satan to keep me immobilized and powerless. I am ready to run forward into the battle of this world’s mess, holding high the banner of the cross. The HOPE of heaven.
Who's with me.
Share this with someone who needs to be brave today. And come back next week when I talk about practical steps we can take in the battle against fear.