I’ve been writing about fear lately because it seems to be on the rise. Our world is full of stress, anxiety, worry, and just not knowing what’s going to happen and when. Are you anxious about tomorrow? Worried that you may not meet the demands of your life? Fearful of what “might” happen and of course, we always think it will be worse than it is today. Are you worried about relationships, thinking you might be alone in this world and that causes your heart to be fearful? Are you anxious about your reputation at work, at church or with neighbors? Are you afraid to do the right thing because you will be rejected from family or friends? I know I can’t touch on all every one of these topics, but I hope you are encouraged after reading this.
Every plant has roots. The roots feed the part of the plant that we see. Without those roots, the plant will die. Even the human body has roots – our teeth have roots and if those roots are decayed, then the part of the tooth we see eventually dies. Jesus cursed the fig tree in Mark 11 and it died and withered. I believe Jesus went to the root of that fig tree and that’s why it died so quickly. When doctors diagnose a disease, they attempt to find the root of the problem. If they don’t, it’ll just keep coming back. I think the same applies to fear, anxiety and worry. If we can find the root of the problem, it will go away – maybe not immediately, but it will fade away.
Romans 8 holds of lot of information about fear and corresponding feelings and emotions. And I believe the first verse is part of the key: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” When we feel guilty, judged or in any way sentenced/condemned, fear has an inroad into our hearts. The reason condemnation breeds fear, is because when a person is condemned for a crime, they go to prison. They are “separated” from those they love and who love them. Verse 2 states: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” When we are born again, we are transferred from death into life. Without Christ we are dead. With Christ we are alive. If you use the word separation for death, it really brings out the cause of our fears. Before we were saved, we were in fact separated from God – totally. With salvation came intimacy with God that was previously never known.
Now many people could care less if they are separated from God. But God made each of us to know Him and without knowing God and without salvation through what Christ did in taking our punishment upon Himself, there is never real peace and eternal life without God (in hell) is pretty scary. The last couple verses of Romans 8 declare, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” See that word separation? God knows we need to be connected with Him. Verse 35 also says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul makes it so clear that nothing on earth or in heaven can break us away (separate, bring death) from God’s love poured out for us in Christ and His finished work on the cross.
So you might be thinking, “OK, I know all that theology, but what about when I’m anxious or worried and can’t seem to stop my fears from taking over?” I think that almost all of our worries have a root in fear of separation. It could be worry that a loved one will die – be separated from us. It could be fear that we’ll be rejected – perhaps just for being yourself, or for doing the right thing, etc. That fear of rejection is really fear of separation, isn’t it? If we’re rejected from friend or whomever, then we’ll be alone; we’ll be separated from someone. These fears can make us do things or say things that deep down, we really don’t want to do or say. All sorts of bad relational issues stem from fear of rejection. And, once you have been rejected in some aspect of your life, you know all too well how it feels and you will do anything not to experience it again.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” The Message version is great: “The fear of human opinion disables;
trusting in God protects you from that.” We all suffer from fear of what people might think of us. And consider this: if we fear what someone thinks of us, then we are giving them power to separate us from relationship. And we conclude, that if we don’t have that relationship, the result will be some death (separation) in us. And really, if a person has the power to do that, then they would be in fact condemning/judging us, which is what Paul talked about in Romans 8:1.
Recently the Lord spoke to me about all this. I began to realize that if the God of the universe has gone to such great lengths to save me from being eternally separated from Him by sending Jesus so that I could indeed be with God forever, then why am I worried about what someone else thinks of me? Why am I fearful of being rejected by anyone on this earth if God has fully accepted me in Christ? And then I asked myself: If the fear and worry of what another might think of me was totally gone from my stinking thinking, how would I behave then? And that made me realize how much of my activity or actions toward others was motivated by fear of rejection. It was one of those “oh wow” moments. In fact, for me it seemed to be the root of many of my own worries. It felt like a rather large tree had been dug up by the root. As rough as that is, it has to be that way or that plant will just grow back up again, and often when it grows back it’s stronger than it was before.
I can’t say I’ve arrived by any stretch of the imagination, but I share this personal experience in hopes that it will assist you in dealing with your fears. I have to apply the truth to any feeling that arises in my soul because only the truth can set me free. 1 John 4 states: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love (God’s love) casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” Or here’s another version, “There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” And then the Amplified: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].”
None of us has reached a full realization of God’s love, but I believe once we begin to have His love go deeper into all those fearful places in our hearts, it will be expelled! That fear of separation/death will fall off of you and, it won’t be cast out by your efforts or by doing anything special, but by His work of grace in you. Just ask Him to show you His love, show you how forgiven you are in Christ (that’s why there’s no more condemnation), show you in a way you can understand, just how much He wants to give and reveal His love to you. And then once you’ve asked, patiently rest in His ability to answer your prayer. There is no need to go into any spiritual gymnastics to bring about the answer to your own prayer. Allow Him room and time to grow that new tree of love that will chase away worry, fear and anxiety. 1 Peter 5:7 says it beautifully, “Casting the whole of your care (anxieties, all of your worries, all of your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares about you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.