I have a list of fears that guide my life. Some of them are entirely reasonable. I hate big dogs, especially if they run at me. I am afraid of heights and being near the edge of anything very tall. Some of my fears are completely irrational. Don’t laugh at these. I am scared of a microwave blowing up while I am using it. I never stand directly in front of it. I also have this recurring nightmare of finding a human head in a toilet. I always peak in the stall before I enter. (Actually, that goes back to a story I heard as a child.) Crazy huh?
I suppose all of us have a list of fears that affect the way we think and act. Many of our fears have justification in our experiences. Others of them are completely irrational. We have no real reason to believe them, but they scare us anyway. This applies to all areas of life, even our Christian faith.
Here are some of the fears I encounter from people on a regular basis.
1. God is Disappointed in Me
I once heard a Christian speaker talk about his experience with teenagers. He always gave his crowds a survey to see what they were thinking. One question was, “If you stood face to face with God, what would he say to you.” His number one response, “He would be disappointed in me.” Many people feel that way. I suppose we import the encounters we have had with other people and place them on God. If others are disappointed in me, then God must be too. Nowhere does scripture give us this concept. In fact, it appears that God is more focused on your future than your past.
2. God Wants to Punish Me
This one has been around for years. You have possibly heard someone say, “If I went to Church the roof would fall in.” The idea basically means that if I came into God’s presence, he would want to punish me. While God hates sin, yet his primary response is love and grace. God is not waiting for you to mess up so that he can hurt you. He is waiting for you to come home so he can love you.
3. If Christians Knew About My Sin, They Would Turn Their Back on Me
This one is perhaps the easiest to understand. Occasionally we have seen people confess their sin and the response has been negative. Let me be very clear, those stories are the exception and not the rule. I have heard people confess sins that were deep and dark, and yet the Church surrounded them, prayed for them and cared about them. I would guess that 99 percent of the time when Christians hear about the sins of others they meet it with compassion, love, and mercy. Confession is scary but healing.
4. No One Understands My Struggles
I firmly believe this is a lie of the devil. He whispers in our ear and tells us we are all alone and no one will understand. The truth is far different. Everyone struggles with something. Everyone! Whatever you have done, there is someone who understands exactly what you are going through. They want to help you and support you. In fact, even if your struggles are not the same, they still understand the power of sin and want to help.
5. Grace is Not Enough.
We know the ugliness found in our soul. As a result, I believe that many people do not love themselves. We want grace and mercy, but it seems too good to be true. Surely there is a catch. We question whether God could really forgive us with all that we have done and thought. The truth is that God does know us and yet he loves us anyway. He forgives us completely. His grace is entirely sufficient.
I recognize that many of my fears have no real grounding in the truth. I only know of one bridge that has collapsed. Yet I live in fear of them. My children think it is hilarious. I think it is not funny in the slightest. In spite of my fear when I come to bridge I say a prayer, hold the wheel firmly, and press on. The truth stands firm, and I cross safely.
I know that people who follow Jesus also have fears. They might even seem a little funny to other people even though they are real to you. My hope is that you will hear the truth. You will trust God and his word. You will cross over them into the future safely.