The following is a guest post from my Pastor, whom I take note every time he speaks. Not because I think him a great man, but because I count him a great man of God; who preaches, teaches, and lives a life of Biblical truth. Imperfect in this world, but perfected through the blood of Jesus Christ for eternal life. Pastor James Clidence of Freedom Baptist Church.
Many Christians have a very unhealthy view of God and who He is. Fear, instead of faith, drives us to this corrupted view of worship and service.
As a pastor, I hear it all the time (sometimes tongue-in-cheek, and sometimes seriously): “I better be at church on Sunday or God is going to be mad at me”
Atheist behavioral psychologist John Watson said in his lectures on Behaviourism: “If the fear element were dropped out of any religion, that religion could not long survive”
Is this true of Biblical Christianity? It should not be. Remembering 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” let us examine a thought.
Have we, as Christians, incorporated fear so much into our teaching, preaching, & worship that we have lost what our true relationship with God should be? One of grace, peace, acceptance and love. One of a loving Father with His arms wide open instead of an abusive Father waiting to come home to punish us. One of a God who loved us so much He sacrificially gave His only begotten Son to deliver us from sin and re-establish communion with Him, instead of a God who is sitting on the edge of His throne waiting for us to mess up so He can sever our connection.
I know we don’t mean to depict God this way, but do our statements, posts, messages, and teachings paint God in a negative light to believers (or unbelievers) or a positive light to believers. Are we so scared to mess up, that we can never focus on our growing relationship with Him?
I.E. We often think of the imminent return of Christ from a fearful perspective instead of a glorious occasion. We preach “You better be living right when Jesus comes” instead of “Watch for the clouds, He is coming again!” Both statements are valid, but a hard focus on the first conditions us to be fearful of his coming while a main-concentration on the second leads to a exciting thought (which thereby will cause us to live right).
I.E.2. Our mindset normally is: “If I sin, then God will be mad at me.” We (myself included), in one way or another, state this often in our messages of sanctification. While God is angry at sin (the Bible teaches clearly about that), a “hard focus” on that fact will lead to an unhealthy view of God as a supreme dictator who is waiting for us to fail. This hard focus also leads into a strong “works-based” salvation mindset that is corrupting our churches right under our noses.
Even in our invitation to Christianity, we overly-incorporate fear into the salvation plan. I understand the lost have every reason to be fearful. If they die in their sins, they will spend eternity in Hell, and they should be warned. We though have leaned on that to drive someone to salvation and force them to make a profession instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to do the saving work in their hearts (John 6:44). Remember, it is not our job to save someone, it is the Holy Spirits job. YOU DON’T NEED TO SCARE THEM for them to make a profession. The Holy Spirit will draw them when He draws them (Titus 3:5).
We have painted salvation to the world as a free ticket out of hell, instead of a reconnection with God. All based on our fear-led teaching.
Christians, I submit that we need to Biblically recondition ourselves. We need to pray for God to change our hearts to not focus so much on fear and start relying on faith. Faith in the God who has engraved us in the palm of His hand (Isa 49:16). Faith in the God who promises He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5).