Finding God's Winning Spirit

Fear Not

November 26, 2013 | Greg Smith | Focus

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Fear is a powerful and formidable foe.  J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “A man who flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.” Fear can be devastating not only to the emotional well-being of everyday life but also to the Christian Faith.  I believe that fear is one of the most powerful obstacles to finding Gods winning Spirit. I have always been interested that, according to the Gospels, the first issue addressed to mankind after the resurrection of Christ is fear.

In the book of Matthew the first words relayed to anyone (in this case Mary) from God’s Angel was, "Do not be afraid".  In Matthew 28:10 we read that Jesus' first words as He appeared to the disciples were, “Do not be afraid; go and take the Word to my brethren". In the Book of Mark we read that the angel told the women at the tomb, "Do not be amazed"(the Greek word used for amazed here is  ek'-tham-bos  which also means to be terrified). In the Book of Luke, when Jesus appears to the disciples, they are described as startled and frightened" (24: 37). In the Book of John the first-time Jesus appears to the disciples He tells them twice, "peace be with you" which in essence means “calm down – calm down”.

That is why it is my theory (and perhaps only my theory) that our biggest challenge as Christians is the negotiation of fear. I believe that God knew that it would be difficult for us to transfer our faith from a living person, Christ, to the Holy Spirit. As He told Thomas, “blessed are those who believe in things unseen”.  God knew that it was going to take strong faith to overcome man’s need for fact (proof) and therefore the propensity to fear.

Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith empowers while fear freezes. Fear kills confidence, performance and potential.  My friend Kendall Simmons was an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers for eight years.  He told me that there is no place for fear on a NFL field. In Kendall’s words, “If you play afraid in pro football two things will happen, one, you will get your butt kicked, and two, you will get your quarterback killed.”  Fear has a tendency to cause us to hesitate or take pause.  If we wait to know or see before we act, we will end up lost or late.  I tell athletes that if they second-guess themselves, more often than not, they will finish second.

In sports fear is often the real enemy not the opponent. This is why the “prevent defense” in football does not often work- typically it is predicated on the fear of losing which usually just prevents winning. Any golfer will tell you not to look at trouble before hitting a shot because, according to Tolkien, that is a short cut to finding it. 

As a Christian counselor I can tell you from experience that one of the major hindrances to living the abundant life is fear.  The New Testament is full of parables, stories and warnings about the danger of fear.  Adam hid from God, the slave buried his talent and Peter denied Christ, all because of fear.  Jesus reacted differently to fear in The Garden of Gethsemane – He responded with faith.

I tell clients all the time that faith does not prevent us from ever being afraid but it does allow us to act in the midst of fear.  Mark Twain once said, “Courage is the resistance to fear, the mastery of fear, not the absence of fear”. One thing does appear to be true, the more we act out of faith the less afraid we tend to be.

 

(Excerpt from Sports Theology: Finding God’s Winning Spirit)

 

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