Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? (Fear, Beck, and Christianity)
If you’ve spent any time recently watching television or surfing the internet, there is one thing that has been made abundantly clear: we live in a nation of fear.
I confess, I do have some “fears.” I really hate spiders and have been known to voice a kind of Brenda Vaccaro-esque squeak when surprised by one. (See my early blog posting on this topic.) I am also really not digging the whole cockroach genre. And I’ve ridden out earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes. Not a big fan of any of them. Looking at the list, there is a theme there. There are definitely things in nature that can give me fear.
Man made stuff. Not so much. (Except for those moments when unexpected company shows up and I haven’t cleaned my apartment in ages… That’ll make me hide and pretend not to be at home. Yes. I have done that. No. I won’t tell you who it was ’cause you might be reading this.)
But, if you listen to all the news and the talking heads and so-called “experts” on the tube, and apparently a whole lot of “Christians” do, we are afraid of: Muslims, “Muslim” President Barack Obama, Muslims taking over the world, unions, budget deficits, Muslim clerics, Muslim 7-11 clerks, blacks, women, gays, fat, drinking soda, gays getting married and destroying the sacred institution of marriage, getting old, losing our jobs, global warming, Intelligent Design, the theory of evolution, Al Qaeda, Planned Parenthood, gun control, the poor, getting robbed, having our home invaded, having our country invaded and taken over by “illegal immigrants,” atheists, liberals, socialists, communists, China, terrorism, abortion doctors, Google, Rachel Maddow, caliphates, the end of the world, the Anti-Christ, and Justin Bieber’s hair.
Okay. I’ll admit there are a very few things in this list that merit our thoughtful consideration. But, if you are a Christian, no matter what any pundit says, there is absolutely NOTHING on this list that you should fear. And here are just a few reasons why:
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
1 Peter 3:13-17 “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
When you fear man or anything be creates, you have taken your eyes off of God and all of His promises.
When you fear, you take un-Christian action.
When humans fear, they do one of two things: they huddle alone in their cave (like the survivalist), or they band together with people who fear the same thing and lash out in “fight” mode.
The only thing we are told to fear is God and His awesome power. Not just in a crime and punishment kind of way, but in a “God created everything in the universe and is beyond my full comprehension, but He still loves me!” way.
Let me address one kind of “fear” in particular: Armageddon, the anti-Christ, and the Tribulation.
No matter how many times the Bible (and Jesus) tells us not to try and guess when the “end” will happen, and to even run away from anyone who says they “know,” we still persist.
I am not entirely unsympathetic to those who are intensely interested in the end times. I grew up just outside of Washington, D.C. in the 60’s and 70’s, when we still did “duck and cover” drills and were certain the bombs were going to drop some day. I read everything about nuclear war and Armageddon that I could get my hands on. Heck, my church even had a designated “Fallout Shelter” in its basement. And I read “The Late Great Planet Earth” and my youth group saw the original scare-fest “A Thief In The Night,” about the Rapture. (Which, by the way, you can see on youtube now.)
There is a magnetic pull in Revelation for many. First, it’s just a great “story.” There’s drama, angst, big battles, good vs. evil, visions, blood and guts…the whole bit. And we, ever believing (or wanting) that our lives have a music soundtrack playing in the background, like to imagine what we would do if we were “left behind.” Would we persevere and resist the anti-Christ and the “mark of the beast?” Then, there’s the whole “solving the mystery” element of Revelation. John wrote using allegory and symbolism. Our human minds can’t resist a mystery. Which is why we get “Murder, She Wrote,” and “CSI.”
But it’s too easy to become obsessed with Revelation and fall into the trap of fear. Christ warned us repeatedly about trying to guess when the Rapture and the Tribulation would occur. Not even the angels know. Only the Father knows. To see all of these so-called prophets online and on television, spouting their “facts” and theories… Christ has already told us what these people are: false prophets. It is the height of mankind’s egoism to believe that, suddenly, God has decided to go against what He gave us in His Word, and now He’s going to reveal the time to one man or woman (who usually has no Bible education and very little evidence of being a mature Christian). But, apparently, they manage to say what many itching ears are wanting to hear. In recent days, Glenn Beck has had some modern-day “prophet” on his show who he calls an “end times expert.” The “expert” says he is an expert because his girlfriend had a vision saying she would meet a man who would have insight into the end times. Right. So, this man who has no knowledge of the Bible (which is really evident if you listen to him for more than five seconds), is now the “end times expert” on a television network. You think there might be a reason that Beck has to use this guy, instead of the many learned and wise men of God that do live in our country? What about the authors of the “Left Behind” series? I might not agree with them on everything, but they would seem to be better prepared to discuss the issue. But, then again, I suspect they wouldn’t go along with the agenda of the show.
When someone says they know when Christ is coming again, they are calling God a liar and they are saying that the Bible is a lie. Plain and simple. Run. Away.
When we listen to this junk, all we are doing is lining the pockets of the fearmongers among us. The men like Glenn Beck, who constantly warns of impending doom with the Anti-Christ-du-jour and tells us to buy gold (which, by the way, he is reportedly paid to promote). He makes his money by sowing dissension and lies. We have no business as Christians supporting this.
And, more importantly, when we fear our neighbor, we cannot love him. We have lost sight of our job, our Great Commission. If you’re stockpiling gold and food and weapons (laying up your treasure on earth), then you aren’t serving your neighbor and sharing the good news of Christ with them. You cannot serve two masters. Pick yours. Fear or Christ.
Are hard financial/political times coming? Perhaps. And it doesn’t take a “prophet” to see it. But we must remember what Jesus told us:
Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Either you believe this, or you don’t. Christ has made a promise. Hedging your bets by storing things in your bomb shelter shows no faith and reveals what you really believe in your heart.
Fear is a trillion dollar industry.
History has shown us repeatedly that Christianity thrives under persecution. It goes astray in prosperity. If anyone had a human reason to “fear,” it would have been Christ and the disciples. With the exception of John, they were all brutally killed for the message of hope that they brought. Christians in the early days were persecuted, fed to lions, tortured, pulled to pieces by horses. Christians today, in other parts of the world, are brutally beaten, tortured, and killed for their beliefs. Meanwhile, in the U.S., we spend so much time trying to legislate morality, we have completely forgotten the Great Commission. I’m sorry. Can’t help my neighbor because I’m busy protesting the removal of the Ten Commandments from the court house. Christianity does not rise or fall on the placement of a plaque on a wall. If we did what we were called to do, there would be no need for the plaque. Christianity only rises on the person and authority of Jesus Christ.
Fortunately, because God gave us Christ, the Word, there is no reason for fear. I can tell you the end of the story right now.
Jesus wins. What else do we need to know?