Silenced by fear?

noI looked at myself in the mirror for a long time wondering, “Are all those critics right? Are those life-long convictions just ‘old man’ stuff, worn out, tired ideas to be tossed?”  Such introspection is not an entirely a bad thing.  It keeps us honest.  I do not want to turn into a man encrusted in tradition, incapable of reflection, unwilling to grow in my understanding of the Word and world in which I live.  So the voices that insist that I must discard that conviction, rewrite that passage of Scripture, conveniently replace long-held doctrine with a new revelation that accommodates my culture get stuck inside my head and sometimes they nearly silence me.  In prayer, humbly waiting on God, I regain courage. I am not arrogant nor am I choosing to retreat into the comfortable past.  I will remain a student of the Word, seeking the voice of the Spirit, while I continue to surround myself with the people of God in His Church.

In this passage from James I find instruction for living wisely in among the turbulence of our time. “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:19-27, NLT)

What is the eternal wisdom here?

First, I must keep on listening… to God’s Spirit, to the criticisms and commendations, to those who agree and those who dispute. In my conversations I must always ask myself if I am trying to learn or simply wanting to be right.

Second, I must moderate the impulse to grow angry. Under pressure, when motive is questioned, anger can arise. God says it will not produce anything good. So, I must let it go.

Third, I must be accountable to God and deal with my own sin!

Fourth, I must do the Word, not just talk the Word.  The strongest rebukes that Jesus spoke were to those He called ‘hypocrites’ because they did not practice what they preached. None of us is flawless in our practice of faith and never will be on this side of Heaven.  Do we hide our failures? If we do, we turn into hypocrites. If we are authentic, we will develop into the ‘beauty of holiness.’

 Fifth, I keep pursuing God by deeply loving others and growing in devotion to Him.  One of the false choices we find presented to us is between a social gospel that reshapes our world by bringing better lives for others and the Gospel that converts the sinful and saves the lost. It is no choice at all.  Christians are to be concerned both about human well-being and sin. Our Gospel opens the door to a home in Heaven and leads us to concern for those who suffer, right now.

Christian, we can live boldly. Does this mean we must shout every conviction, condemn every sin, and wave our Bibles at the world?  I think not. It means we are people of deep faith, with well formed convictions that rest solidly on the Word, whose lives even more than our words are compelling evidence of the Truth about Jesus and His love.

Here is a word from the Word. Paul, who was writing from a prison, shows us the true courage that we can find in Christ.  Lord, bless this Word to us today.
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. …  Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27, NIV)  Amen.

____________

All The People Said Amen

You are not alone if you are lonely
When you feel afraid you’re not the only
We are all the same in need of mercy
To be forgiven and be free
It’s all you got to lean on
But thank God it’s all you need 

And all the people said amen
And all the people said amen
Give thanks to the Lord for His love never ends
And all the people said amen

 If you’re rich or poor well it don’t matter
Weak or strong you know love is what we’re after
We’re all broken but we’re all in this together
God knows we stumble and fall
And He so loved the world
He sent His son to save us all

 Blessed are the poor in spirit who are torn apart
Blessed are the persecuted and the pure in heart
Blessed are the people hungry for another start
For theirs is the kingdom the kingdom of God

 Matt Maher | Paul Moak | Trevor Morgan © 2013 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) CCLI License # 810055

1 thought on “Silenced by fear?”

  1. Well written, Pastor. And I love the quote from Gandhi. Our society and current culture make it very difficult to live in the Word. However, even though you may be feeling challenged at the moment because of your convictions, you remain courageous and wise. This opportunity for reflection is a gift from God; another moment to be reborn in Christ. He is working through you in so many ways and I am grateful for that and for you. It is not easy, I am sure, but you are passing along that which is meant for all, God’s grace, by sharing and breaking down the Word, as well as living it. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s