…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
There are two basic kinds of fear.
There’s an instinctive fear, which forms in us when we find ourselves in a dangerous situation. Our bodies will run on adrenaline to counter this kind of fear.
The second kind of fear, however, is anxious fear. Anxious fear is the result of a hyper-focus on potentialities and hypotheticals—the “what ifs” of life. Anxious fear causes us to get so caught up in dwelling upon the unknowns of the future that those unknowns become “knowns” to the mind and heart. “This could happen” can so easily become “This will happen!” And before we know it, we’re freaking out, wracked with anxiety.
However, the Bible teaches that such anxious fear does not need to rule our lives; it can be put in its place.
Anxious fear thrives when we are not present to God in the here and now.
By its very nature, a hyper-focus on the future makes it impossible to be attentive to the ways God is loving us in the present. After all, if you’re busy wringing your hands over tomorrow’s worst-case scenario, how can you abide in God’s presence today?
This is why Paul, writing to Timothy, pointed to the Spirit of power, love, and self-control that is found in Christ. You see, Timothy was a church leader against whom the odds had been stacked. He was young, unexperienced, and lacked confidence, yet he was responsible for the monumental task of developing a local church that was dysfunctional in many ways. Needless to say, it was understandable for Timothy to fret about the future of his congregation. Would he have what it takes to lead these people? Or would the whole thing crumble on his watch?
However, Paul reminds him (and us) that such thoughts are not from God. They are from the flesh. Anxiety comes from the flesh, for the flesh never stops finding creative ways to keep us from being attentive to God’s presence.
Our flesh focuses on the future (anxiety over events that have not yet happened) or on the past (condemnation over events that have already happened), never on the present (what is happening with God right now).
The Spirit within us, however, has been given to focus our minds and hearts upon the activity of God in the present. And this renewed focus produces power, love, and self-control by which we can rightly worship God and serve others no matter how the odds have been stacked against us. Therefore, in both our daily life and the life we share with His people, God is teaching us to put anxious fear in its place by returning to the Gospel again and again.
In the Gospel, God has dealt with our past, so that we can enjoy an abiding relationship with Him in the present, knowing that our future is in His hands.
So this Sunday, as we gather to worship let us be wholly present to God. Because of His Gospel, our minds need not wander fretfully to what’s ahead of us this week. Instead we can bring ourselves fully into the presence of God, no longer anxious about the unknowns, but remembering that all of life is centered upon this one great Known: “behold, I am with you always even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
PRAYER AND REFLECTION
- What have you been anxious about lately? Have their been any lingering fears in your thought-life? Take those to God in prayer right now. Tell Him that you trust Him because you know the Gospel is true.
- Pray that the people of LifePoint would be attentive to God’s presence in our gatherings this Sunday. Ask that no distraction would hinder us from receiving all that God wants to say and do among us.
Set List for Sunday, August 25, 2019
- Then He Rose (M. Brock, C. Brown, S. Furtick, C. Tomlin)
- The Passion (B. Ligertwood, S. Ligertwood, S. Davenport)
- Another in the Fire (C. Davenport, J. Houston)
- Singing in The Victory (M. Dawes, B. Land, A. Ivey, J. McCreary, L. Walter, D. Schmidt)
- Arms Open Wide (S. Knock)