For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4)
How many people do you know who live their lives in fear? Now, I’m not talking about running away when they see a spider in the bathroom, or shrieking when a loud noise is made. I’m talking about people who always see the dark side of everything- the party poopers, the Debbie Downers, the ones who will always point out when you plan a picnic that it may rain, and the ants are really a problem there, and there may be poison ivy in the woods.
They always find the down side or the reason not to do something. They won’t travel if there was a plane crash, they won’t plan for a trip too far in advance because something may happen: they always have something bad to look forward to. These people are living in fear- they have no faith, no trust in God that whatever happens, it is for the best, because God is working towards our good.
Bad things happen, all the time, and often bad things happen to good people. But that’s what living in a cursed and fallen world is like.
When you see a beautiful gold bracelet, do you think about how much fire and heat the gold went through, melted and remelted until it was that pure? No, not usually, right? Most of us see the beautiful gold and don’t think about the smelting process it had to go through to become that beautiful.
It’s the same way when we see a godly person- do you really think that saintly person was born that way? We all are sinners- even the Talmud understands and recognizes what the Christian world calls “Original Sin”, only in the Talmud it is called the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination.) This is something that we are all born with, and it’s something we need to overcome. The only way to do that is to face it, to overpower it, and that is what John is talking about, above.
We who are Believers, meaning those who have accepted the Grace of God given through the sacrificial death of Yeshua (Jesus) and who have determined they will do T’Shuvah (turn from sin) are given the power of God to help us overcome ourselves. As Yeshua said of entering the kingdom of God, for men it is impossible but with God, all things are possible.
Part of this is faith- in fact, most of being a Believer is faith. Faith that God exists, that His promises are trustworthy, that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised throughout the Tanakh, and that the world is a really nasty piece of work that we need to live in, but that (once we are “saved”) we no longer really belong to. When we accept God, we reject the world system. When we do what the world system expects of us, we are rejecting God.
It’s that simple. And when we reject the world, the world will work against us. And…here’s the kicker…..the closer we get to God the more Tsouris the enemy will throw at us. We are no threat to “Old Nick” when we do what the world wants, but as we become holier he gets nervous, and tries his best to get us to go back to doing what our nature wants us to do.
Living in fear, always seeing the down side- that serves the enemy of God. That says you do not believe that God is in control, that you don’t trust God to watch out for you, and that you are more concerned about what people can do to you than what God can do for you. In other words, when you are afraid, you are being faithless.
That’s the hard truth, and if you know you are the one in the crowd who brings up the downside, who looks for reasons things can go wrong, who expects that things will not work out, you need to get your head out of where it is and back on your shoulders! Stop being a faithless coward and start to show people the true power of God, the true strength that you have from the Ruach HaKodesh that you accepted when you accepted Yeshua, and walk bravely into that furnace right along side Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their trust in God was absolute, even though they knew God might not save them! In Daniel 3 when good old Nebbie told them that he would throw them into a furnace if they didn’t bow down to the gold statue he made (i.e., conform to the world system) they answered:
“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
They faithfully expected God to save them, and knew that He could, yet they also recognized that He might not. That isn’t faithlessness- that is an absolute declaration of the faith and trust that God knows what is best and will do what is best to further His plans. We may have to die in the furnace, but it will eventually serve God, and that is our purpose on Earth- to serve God.
Faith is more than shouting how much you love the Lord at services, or telling others what they should do so they can be saved. It is living your life without fear, of anything, at all times. I am not saying to be stupid- you don’t stick your hand in the fire and hope God will not let you get burned. But, when you go through life, you stop being a stick in the mud and start to be positive, to look forward to things, to be upbeat and joyful.
I wrote a drash called SWISH– So What, I‘m Saved, Hallelujah! We need to remember that, every moment of every day. I’m not so good at it, either, and I have to learn to do what I preach. I believe that what I preach is justified and confirmed by God’s word (and PLEASE- if you ever think I am wrong PLEASE let me know. I never want my feelings to override what God says) so I preach it faithfully and with confidence. But because I preach His word doesn’t mean I am any better at living it than you are: I still get upset, I still get angry, I still use words that I shouldn’t even know, but I am becoming more holy, despite myself, because I do read and try to live in accordance to His word.
That is what being faithful is about- being brave enough to grow holier in a world that wants you to be more sinful. And not being afraid shows others that there is a better way to live, without fear, without worry, and full of hope. That’s what “walking the walk” is all about.
Don’t let fear overrule your faith. Henry Ford is known to have said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Walk faithfully, believe you can, if for no other reason believe you can because you know that God can! Remember that with God all things are possible!
Don’t be afraid- you don’t need to be, you don’t have to be, and in truth, you shouldn’t be. If you know the Lord, you have nothing to fear from anyone or anything. And if you don’t know the Lord, maybe you should stop being afraid of what you might lose by accepting Him as your King and Saviour, and think about all you have now without God: fear, no hope, no future, nobody you can really trust to have your back, and no chance of overcoming anything.
Without the Lord we have no hope for anything to ever really work out well, and with the Lord we have the secure knowledge that we will have eternal peace, eternal joy and the greatest, most powerful entity in the Universe on our side.
I can’t believe people still haven’t figured that out!