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Misquote: Confronting Hollow Phrases with God-filled Truth, Part 1

August 22, 2009

Misquote.001.jpgIt is easy to lazily fall into the monotony of common phrases. Usually if we hear a word or phrase enough, we say it. Not only so but if we hear something enough times without responsibly thinking through it, we begin to believe its claims. In varying degrees we are all cultural chameleons. This is why mom never wanted you to hang out with those kids who said bad words and burned ants with a magnifing glass. Instead you hung out with other kids who sipped Juicy Juice and watched Magee and Me and Thundercats. One such phrase is, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

What does that even mean? If fear is a view (whether actual or fictional) of a dangerous future, then this saying suggests that the only reason to view a dangerous future is because a dangerous future can be viewed. Really what this axiom postulates is that fear is not real. This is a hopelessly unhelpful statement that is often regurgitated in the midst of real difficulty. Those in Christ should not be ones to ever peddle hollow statements of false comfort, particularly in times of great need. Therefore we must admit there is fear and learn to confront fear truthfully.

There is great fear in the world today. Fear has gripped the Western world in particular in the area of finance. Contrary to popular opinion this fear has very little to do with the recent economic downturn. I think this misdiagnosis is a result of a grander misunderstanding of the nature of fear. Principally fear is not contingent on a particular situation. Fear exists in a person whether or not a situation is present. Specific situations do not create fear, they simply reveal fear.

Fear simply put is a true vision of self. Meaning that when we see ourselves for what and who we are a dangerous future is certain. Such a view of self is highlighted by particular situations. For instance when money becomes tight or even nonexistent and I am a person who constantly looks to myself for salvation, I will be fearful. Fear is a view of self-centered future. This is idolatry.

Faith on the other hand is a true vision of God. This means that when God is seen as God trust, contentment, and faith immediately follow. Therefore we must look to a future that is filled with God. This is not a false formula aimed at feeling better, it is a proper view of God’s existence in a fearful world.

Fear is real and we must deal with it by looking for God. It is when we are gripped by the reality of God’s presence that all fear is chased away by the goodness of future with him.

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