Monday, March 20, 2017

God and fearful threats ................ Parables 564

August 5, 1997

Abortion continues to be a hot topic. Recently, the United States Congress recommended a ban on partial-birth abortions. President Clinton vetoed this proposed legislation but at least a dozen states determined to go ahead with the ban at the state level.

Military hospitals continue to ban all abortions, even after a challenge to change that legislation. A member of the House of Representatives who voted to retain the ban said, “We are in the business of having the military win wars, not make war on an innocent baby in the womb.”

“Pro-choice” advocates would argue that is not a valid argument; that a fetus is not a “baby” and women should have total freedom to do as they wish with their own bodies. Some try to use Scripture to defend abortion even though their methods of interpretation are questionable.

The decision to abort a pregnancy has multiple motivations driven by powerful emotions. One of those emotions is fear: fear of being caught pregnant, fear of not being able to care for a child, fear of a boy friend’s rejection, fear of losing popularity, fear of the sacrifices required to raise a child and so on. Although God offers some direction about the value of human life related to a child in the womb, He gives much more direction and help for that debilitating emotion: fear.

The Bible says “God is not the author of fear.” It also says “fear not” and “be not afraid” over 100 times. Sometimes these are words of encouragement to His people to not be afraid of others who are a threat to them, because He is with them and is on their side.

Other times God encourages His people to drop an unwarranted fear of Him and of judgment. He promises that anyone who trusts Him, belongs to Him and is obedient to Him, has no reason to fear. He is with His people and will take care of them.

However, a few passages tell people that God is to be feared. For instance, in Luke 12 Jesus says, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

Reading this statement in its context, Jesus means we spend far too much energy being afraid of those things that threaten us when we should have more concern for our standing before God. After all, it is He who controls our eternal destiny.

For some, an unborn child is a fearful threat. Those fears pressure people into considering actions that are not based on a genuine awe of God or on a deep faith in His power. He can help us but He also can judge what we do. We need to be more concerned with His opinion of us than that of other people or even our own.

However, fear of God is not intended as a club over our head. Jesus affirms this by adding: “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.”

Rather than suggesting fear as a threat, Jesus wants us to realize God loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him. We need to make that a priority choice.

Jesus also knows that when fear of people or other things motivates our decisions, we are not living by faith and “anything not of faith is sin.” When we find ourselves in emotionally-charged or frightful situations, Jesus wants us to realize that He cares about us more than we could ever know and that He is able to meet our need, no matter how impossible it seems to us. He invites us to come to Him rather than be driven by fear.

If fear is a driving force, then consider transferring that negative fear into a positive reverence for God. All our fears can be overcome — by faith.

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