Summary: If you Google phobias you’ll see that people can be afraid of just about anything. People have come up with creative ways to scare people on Halloween. Although these pranks are done in good fun, being afraid is not so much fun. And when that fear debilit
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
INTRODUCTION: It’s been said that everybody is afraid of something; whether it be heights, spiders or snakes. If you Google phobias you’ll see that people can be afraid of just about anything. We have Halloween coming up. The ‘scare the bejeepers out of people’ holiday. (me and John Horton) People have come up with creative ways to scare people on Halloween. Although these pranks are done in good fun, being afraid is not so much fun. And when that fear debilitates us, especially spiritually, it’s not healthy.
1) What are we afraid of?
• We’re afraid of people. We are typically afraid of others who intimidate us by their size or power or by the authority they wield. But it’s specifically concerning when that intimidation causes us to be quiet about our faith. Matt. 10:26-33. We are not to be afraid of people who persecute us or are a threat to our safety. Jesus says, “Do not allow fear to silence you. Be bold and shout it from the rooftops.” In this passage Jesus tells us not to be afraid; then he tells us who really holds the ultimate power and it’s not man, but God. Then he gives us reasons why we don’t have to be afraid; why we don’t have to worry. He assures us that although God has the power over body and soul we are very valuable to him and he is watching over us. However, Jesus also tells us that if we want to disbelieve the truth about God’s love and protection and instead live in fear, our silence will be our undoing.
• We’re afraid of loss. John 12:42-43. These leaders believed in Jesus but they were afraid. If they confessed their faith in Christ they would be put out of the synagogue. And this was a legitimate fear because the Pharisees had said that anyone who professed faith in Jesus would be put out of the synagogue and they had the power to do it. So it wasn’t an empty threat. And that was too much for them to risk losing. If they were to be put out of the synagogue they would lose their leadership status. They would lose their prominence in the public square. What’s worse is not only would they go from being a prominent figure to an average commoner, they would actually be worse than a commoner; they would be an outcast. To be put out of the synagogue was a big deal. You would be shunned by society. You would be viewed as a degenerate. These guys were afraid to lose all that. They would rather have people praising them then God. They chose the things of the world rather than the things of God. They really chose death over life. What are we afraid to lose? What are we afraid to give up? What are we afraid to let go of that is standing in the way of us embracing Jesus.
• We’re afraid of evil. In some sense we should be. There should be a healthy respect for the power of evil. It’s not a game or something to dabble in. (Ouija board by Milton Bradley). However, we can be too afraid of it. To the point where, especially in the case of temptation, we cave in to the pressure of it and act as if we have no power to resist it. A lot of the power evil has is in our willingness to feed it. In our willingness to believe its lies that persuade me I have no power. Rom. 8:12-15. With the power of the Holy Spirit we are no longer slaves of fear.
• We’re afraid of the unknown. This is a big one for us. We fear questionable outcomes. We worry about uncertainties. Worry is the monster whose name tag reads, “what if?” The reality of not knowing what’s going to happen to us can haunt and plague us into anxiety, stress and fear which results in sleepless nights, addictions and in some cases death. Sometimes we’re so caught up in anxiety and paranoia that we’re afraid when there’s no reason to be. We’ll make a threat where there is none. Psalm 53:5a, “There they were, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread.” People can get caught up in fear and direct their lives by this unnecessary fear. Their fears are real only in their minds and no where else. Here is where I make unrealistic fear real. I make untrue fears true. This is the result of allowing fear to rule my life.
2) How do we overcome that?
• Be courageous. When Moses was passing the torch to Joshua and calling upon him to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land he gave his people this message in Deut. 31:3-6. Moving the Israelites into the Promised Land without their leader Moses was a scary situation. God knew they needed courage in order to overcome their fears. So he encouraged them by assuring that he would be with them every step of the way. It’s no different for us today. Eddie Rickenbacker once said, “Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are afraid.” We’re probably not going to live a life absent from fear. How we react to fearful situations is what matters. We’re not brave until we are first afraid. “Cradles of Eminence” is a book which produced a revealing study involving 413 “famous and exceptionally gifted people who have helped change the world.” The author spent years attempting to understand what produced such greatness; to find a common thread that ran through all of these outstanding lives. Surprisingly, the most outstanding fact was that virtually all of them had to overcome the personal fears associated with great suffering or failure in order to become who they were.