FEAR OR FAITH

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9 NASB

Fear is the opposite of faith

Joshua stood on the banks of the Jordan River viewing the fortified city of Jericho. He had just lost his mentor, Moses. Forty years before he witnessed the other ten spies who refused to enter the Promised Land because they were afraid. He and Caleb were the only ones to urge the people to take the land promised to them. I imagine he stared at the multitude of people waiting for his signal to move forward and wondered, Will they lose courage too? Yet the God who led them out of Egypt and through the forty-year consequence of their lack of faith now assures him: “I will be with you. Do not fear or be dismayed, believe Me.”

God is unchangeable

One of God’s attributes is His immutability. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, tomorrow and in the future. So, should His words to Joshua mean anything to us? The giants of Covid-19, riots, loneliness, loss of income, isolation, and anarchy challenge us. Can God deliver us? One thing God warned Joshua was His promises were conditional upon obedience. Do you think some of the Goliaths of our culture are too strong for Him? Or, do you believe He is omnipotent, sovereign, and powerful enough to raise Jesus from the dead if we honor Him with our obedience? Or, has our refusal to honor Him and obey Him rendered us defenseless?

Courage in the face of the unknown

God urged Joshua to be strong and courageous. The Hebrew words mean to bind, to hold fast in the face of a challenge. We face challenges in our nation, but nothing like the early settlers who left homes, families, fortune, and fear behind and forged ahead across this magnificent land. What about those of the greatest generation that answered their country’s call and fought against the giants of their time—despots, tyrants, genocidal zealots, and philosophies that ripped nations apart and took away freedom? We have never been a nation of fear, but I see fear’s insidious march upon our nation, particularly upon our youth, trampling faith and producing national impotence.

The Antidote

The antidote to dismay and the fear that beats us down, demoralizes us, and incites terror is faith. Odds against Joshua and the Israelites seemed insurmountable—strong fortified cities, better weaponry, and larger numbers, but because Joshua believed God and led the people, God performed miracles.

Fear Crushes our Spirit

Instead of feeling panic whenever we hear the latest statistics on COVID, or the destruction and disregard for lives and property we witness daily, we must take a stand and retake the land. Jericho, the first city Joshua met after crossing the Jordan, fell because all the people obeyed God. Think what could happen if we turned to Him rather than allow the latest expert dispenser of scary news crush us.

As for me and my house

Whenever I feel fear creeping into my heart, I pledge to extinguish its flames with faith. Joshua told his people, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” I will continue to take precautions against this unknown virus, but I refuse to let it destroy my confidence or my Constitutional freedoms. When I hear those who speak against our nation or tell lies to further their ideology, I will speak up. The God I serve is bigger than all my fears. He has overcome the world system. Christian, believe it!

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Being Woke is not for Me

I have lived enough years to see numerous cultural trends launched upon young malleable minds—Woodstock, the sexual revolution with its free love and the ultimate consequence of sexually transmitted diseases, Viet Nam protests, and the civil rights movement just to mention a few. Social change does not come easily, nor is it always right. Spontaneous movements often flare up and burn out quickly, but outside forces fuel and exploit the idealistic and inexperienced youth.

Take the “woke generation” as the latest example. On the surface it sounds good, like “pro-choice” or “Black Lives Matter.” Of course, all humans want choice to live however they wish, and black lives do matter, but not to the exclusion of innocent children or other races. In both cases, emotions direct the action, not logic.

Inherent in the term “woke” is a feeling of superiority, like only privileged people are aware of social injustice. The movement is intrinsically fraught with generalization, exactly the thing they say they are against. Even the term is exclusionary, giving its adherents a sense of well-being and self-importance. Conformity and groupthink overcome reason. Being “woke” appeals to the pride lurking in all of us.

As a Christian, I find “wokeness” disturbing on a spiritual level. The new “woke” culture appears to me to be a neo-Gnosticism—salvation can only come through special knowledge, only imparted to a few. The rigidity of the “woke culture” reminds me of dogma often found in cults. “If you disagree with me, you are inferior and destined to the dust-heap of history.” And they say generalization is bad? The hypocrisy is palpable.  By looking at the world through a microscope searching for “micro-aggressions” from those they wish to marginalize, they become what they say they hate.

Am I condoning social injustice? Absolutely not! We are all equal in God’s eyes, no matter what color, nationality, or creed. We as Christians should be about doing what we can to change inequities, not as a group, but as individuals. Jesus, when asked about the greatest commandments answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…the second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the prophets.” (Matthew 37, 39-40 NASB)

America is not perfect, but at least we still have the freedom to choose how we treat people—our neighbors. We have come a long way because Christian principles founded our nation and has energized change. Our founders were themselves not perfect, but we inherited their wisdom through our Constitution. Inequities will always exist. It is up to us to exercise our faith through works of kindness and charity, not aligning ourselves with a movement that may or may not be as pure as it sounds.