People are afraid of dying–even God-loving folks.
There are those individuals who insist they have no fear of journeying to the Great Beyond, but that is only because the Angel of Death is not presently circulating in their neighborhood, soliciting souls.
Realizing that this fear of death was in place, Jesus comforted his disciples by saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.”
What a magnificent statement–a balmy breeze of tenderness.
Yet I must tell you, the average religious organization in this country takes the basic fear we have of dying and scares the hell into us. Rather than comforting, they offer another apprehension–eternal damnation.
So now, because we are afraid of dying, and also of hell, we have a great tremor of anxiety over sin.
Am I sinning?
What is sin?
Do I sin more or less than you?
Can I cover up my sin so it doesn’t seem to be sin at all?
Am I more afraid of sinning, or getting caught with my pants in some unexplainable position?
We are supposedly born again, Spirit-inspired people, who are afraid of dying, hell and now sin.
But that’s not enough for the religious ramblers–the trepidation must be hammered into our souls.
So they begin to make congregations afraid of sinners. The notion is promoted that this sin thing can “rub off on ya'” if you get too close to it or accidentally condone it by refusing to judge people instead of condemn them.
In other words, you might be in danger of dying and going to hell because of the sin of loving sinners.
But that must be the end, right? No. There is one last fear stuck into the backpack of every hapless religious camper. Since dying is coming and there’s a hell to be avoided, which means you have to run from sin and the sinner, it’s just best to play it safe and be afraid of living.
We start sprouting nasty statements.
“Let’s not try that.”
“That might not be of God.”
“Let’s play it safe.”
“Until we see somebody else do it, let’s back off.”
“God may be more forgiving than we think, but just in case, let’s take away all semblance of joy in our worship, freedom in our walk and thought to our theology.”
So we have nervous ninnies serving a nit-picking Nazarene.
Consider: Jesus was in a boat when a squall came up on the Sea of Galilee. He was asleep. Matter of fact, they had to wake him up and tell him how desperate the situation was, because he had cuddled into his pillow. He did not rebuke the storm. First he asked the disciples why they were afraid. He told them to “be of good cheer.”
There you go.
Church of the Lord Jesus, why are you so damned afraid, and how about a little good cheer?
Here’s the good news–Jesus wants you to stop being afraid, followed by the better news: less fear, more love, more life and more love of living.
Published by Jonathan Cring