The biblical blockbuster, ‘Hall of Faith’ in Hebrews chapter eleven is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament. There we are given a long list of both named and unnamed individuals who endured difficulty in order to live out their lives of faith. These are that great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us to enter the fullness of the inheritance. Though some of them did not receive all that they had waited for in their earthly lives, they have now become partakers of all that God promised them. Faith is the lone necessary ingredient that we all must possess if we will persevere unto the end. You are challenged in this life, and none of us can reasonably expect a pathway of comfort and ease because there are powerful forces which seek to impede our journey of trust. The degree to which we are steadfastly enduring is a great revealer of the degree of our trust in God. Faith is the vehicle through which God’s glorious plan for our lives becomes reality. Without faith it is impossible to please Him, yet with faith, the impossible becomes actual and that which is immovable inevitably has to relocate. God has taught me with repeated lessons that a faith which cannot be tested should never be trusted. He proves to us the legitimacy of our commitment by stretching our faith on an ongoing basis. More importantly, He proves the depth of His love to us through that same stretching process. He elongates our capacity to comprehend His goodness, grace and glory.
Hebrews 11 is extremely motivating – but what if there existed a different chapter which was called ‘The Hall of Fear’? In an inverted manner, what if we were allowed the reminder of how detrimental fear is to the purposes of God? We are told that “Do not fear” is the most often repeated command found in the bible. Our wise and trustworthy God knows that, perhaps above anything else, human fear interrupts the benefits of divine invitations. Maybe the imaginary ‘Hall of Fear’ would read something like this:
By fear Adam and Eve fled from God and hid in their shame. By fear Abraham lied about Sarah, saying she was his sister and not his wife, and hazarded her life with pagan men. By fear Jacob fled from Esau after robbing him of his birthright and entered the most difficult years of his life. By fear Moses debated with God about whether he could go to Egypt and deliver Israel. By fear Esther hesitated about walking into her husband’s, the king’s, presence on behalf of her persecuted countrymen. By fear David humiliated himself and lost his royal reputation by feigning insanity at the gates of Gath. By fear a young Saul fled from his appointment to be Israel’s first king; by fear Saul later lost his rights to that same throne. By fear the rich young ruler chose his earthly money over the value of his soul. By fear Peter focused upon the waves more than he looked to the Wave-Walker. By fear the religious rulers of Jesus’ day rejected Him and crucified Him. By fear all the disciples fled Jesus in the hour of His betrayal. By fear Peter denied that he knew Jesus in the presence of a suspicious little school girl…
Convicting isn’t it? My name could be on that sad list more times than you could possibly know. Fear is a crippling agent to Kingdom living. Because of fear many people will not exchange earthly comfort for heavenly callings. Because of fear churches will not box up and throw out outdated methods of ministry, and seek God’s wisdom about how to engage a post-Christian culture. By fear spiritual leaders are not speaking out with biblical clarity on culturally controversial issues. It is fear that compels us to choose our own selves above the needs of others and the commitments we have made to them. More than anything other factor, it is fear destroys marriages. Fear strangles hope. Fear is a momentum killer, a Goliath-reviver, a demon-pleaser, a soul-suffocator and a glory-thief. Fear is no mild annoyance but, rather, a well-honed instrument in the hand of the Enemy who has committed himself to resisting the glory of Jesus Christ in every generation. Satan cannot win in the end, but that does not mean we can rest in a blasé approach to fear in our lives. Personally, I fast and pray at times with nothing else in mind other than to receive a breakthrough from the Holy Spirit in this recurring rough-patch in my own heart. Fear is a stubborn tenant and is loathe to give up his room.
What are you afraid of? What is it costing you? How is it affecting those closest to you? Fear is extremely contagious and the only inoculation I have found for it is humble trust in an unwavering Savior. Trust must be pursued while fear must be denied. Thank God that there is no single chapter in our bible that is dedicated to a ‘Hall of Fear’. If there were such a chapter you would likely find your name and mine somewhere in there because of our struggles in past days or present challenges.
Let’s live in such a way that, if that imaginary chapter were written about future days of the people of God, our names would be nowhere to be found on its pages.