March 24, Tuesday

Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 25, 2014.  It has been updated to reflect the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  

 

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“Fear and Anxiety”

1 John 4:17-21 (ESV)  

By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 

If we think about it, all of us are born in fear, ultimately die in fear, and in between, we experience varying levels of fear throughout life.  Perhaps, as of a few weeks ago, we may have felt like we had no struggle with fear; how that has all changed so quickly amid fears of global spread of COVID-19! I think we would all confess that we all are experiencing varying degrees of anxiety as a result.

In the fifties, psychologists in America recognized a shift in the emotional health of the general population and began labeling the modern era as” the age of anxiety.”  During that time, Paul Tillich, who was a theologian at Yale, wrote a very important book entitled The Courage to Be, in which he identified the difference between fear and anxiety.  He wrote: “Anxiety and fear have the same ontological root but they are not the same in actuality.  Fear, as opposed to anxiety has a definite object, which can be faced, analyzed, attacked, endured. But this is not so with anxiety, because anxiety has no object, or rather, in a paradoxical phrase, its object is the negation of every object.”  

What is Tillich talking about?  It is far easier to deal with our fears arising from identifiable objects, such as an intruder or a sickness, as opposed to something that is as abstract as death and judgment.    How does someone fight against the meaninglessness of life, the prospect of eternity, and being judged by a holy God? Without the assurance of Christ’s love, these questions still remain a constant source of fear and anxiety in our lives.  In fact, if you still wrestle with these matters, it probably is an indication that God’s love has not been perfected in you.  

This matter has become all the more urgent as many people in the world are dealing with the fear of coronavirus on the one hand, and anxiety over its impact on their everyday life on the other.  The only solution for a person filled with anxiety is an experience of Christ’s perfect love. With that, we can begin to conquer all our fears and live the life of love that God created for us. Let’s turn to God: seek Him; cry out to Him.   

Prayer: Father, help us to overcome our fears and anxieties, not by our own courage but by the courage that comes from Your love.   May we experience Your love so that it is a constant reality in our lives and not just an abstract theological concept. Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 57


Lunch Break Study  

Read Matthew 10:26-33: “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why are we often afraid to proclaim the Gospel?  
  2. Who should we fear?
  3. What is our assurance against fear?  

Notes

  1. At the bottom line, most of us are hesitant to share the Gospel because of the fear of persecution and rejection.     
  2. Ultimately, we should fear God more than the opposition of man.  A “healthy fear” of God allows us to overcome all our other fears.          
  3. The assurance against fear is the loving care that God has for every believer, and that He is intimately aware of each of us.   From this perspective, the approval of God is worth more than a thousand rejections by man.   

Evening Reflection

Are there people in your life that need to hear the Gospel?   Write down the names and specific prayer requests for each person.  Take some time to pray that God would provide opportunities and boldness to share your faith with these individuals.