I heard him say it just a few weeks ago.
It was Sunday morning. My friend was preaching. Near the end of his message, he was reflecting upon his experience in the body of Christ in that city. He said something like this: "We are still much too fearful…"
"…Much too fearful." I thought about his words–a lot! Why? Years of dealing with fear in the body of Christ. Many, many years spent dealing with the fears of others. Unfortunately, many Christ-followers are more governed by fear than faith in the one who we claim to follow. Think for a moment about some of our fears:
- fear of what others might think or say about us.
- fear of conflict.
- fear of displeasing someone who is important in our lives.
- fear of being accused.
- fear of losing a family (in our congregation).
- fear of upsetting those with significant influence.
- fear that people will stop giving their money to support the work of the church.
- fear of failure.
- fear of success. (Then I can’t spend my life blaming others for this or that).
- fear of being exposed as inadequate.
- fear of being seen as ignorant.
- fear of being seen as not measuring up to what others think we ought to be.
As a result, churches become places where very little truth is exchanged between one another. We try to communicate to one another that we are "fine". We put a positive spin on everything that happens. We say we want a church that is loving, encouraging, etc. while we hold one another at arms length. We like the idea of church as a loving place, while we are committed to maintaining control. Meanwhile, newer people may ask, "How do I get in? How do I break through the cliques? How can I find a real friend?" More to come…