No Fear

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Heb. 2:14-15)

Fear can protect us from hurting ourselves. It keeps us from driving too fast on the freeway, walking too close to the ledge of a tall building, or gambling too much in a high stakes poker game. At its worst, though, it keeps us from acting boldly in situations where we need to take a risk. It keeps us from making investments that can lead to success. It causes us to hide our true selves out of fear of rejection by others. It causes us to spend our energy focusing on the moment as we scramble to build security in the face of an uncertain future.

Fear is an accepted part of life in Western culture. We're told that success is found in storing up possessions, comfort, and vivid experiences. The things we value the most are easy to lose. We're told to focus on retirement, to prepare for the moment when we won't be able to create more security. Worries about the future mean stress in the present. When things take a wrong turn, like losing our jobs or a failed investment, we fall into a panic. What might have at one time been considered an adventure is a cause for anxiety. Our lives are fragile, dependent on people and circumstances outside our control. We live with uncertainty, and it's taking a toll.

It's no surprise that medications exist to alleviate us of stress and worry, and that alcoholism and drug use is on the rise. If we can't find peace, we need chemical assistance. We find outlets to decompress and distract ourselves from our worries. The new frontier for distraction is virtual reality—a digitally created computer simulation that delivers all the things you don't have in real life. That includes security, power, love, and purpose. Since those qualities are missing from most people's lives, we create virtual environments that can deliver them as a distraction. But the fact that we accept a simulation implies we are missing something real. Something that exists, along a different path than the one we're on.

The Creator of the universe made you to have a relationship with him. It's why you exist in the first place and why you have free will. But in your failure (and not just yours, but everyone's, going back to the very first people), you made it impossible for him to draw close to you. You freely chose against him and for yourself. God can do anything, in active terms, but he can't become something he is not. He can't become less holy, less perfect, or less righteous. His moral perfection makes it impossible for him to simply excuse those who have chosen to reject him. He can't draw near to them. It leaves us in a terrible spot because apart from that relationship, our destiny is grim. Death is the end of biological life, the end of the chance for us to choose him. It is the moment we are accountable for how we've lived and the decisions we've made.

The devil wants for us to fail, to end our lives with nothing to show for our time here. He wants us to play video games with every waking moment. He wants us to medicate ourselves and watch the years tick by. He wants us to spend our hours working, saving, and worrying. He wants us to live as if life is no more than a big party. He wants to prove we are no better than he is. As a fallen angel, he chose against God and for himself. His destiny is grim, and he wants to prove that no one is better than he is. He's already lost at least one bet with God (Job 1:9-11) and doesn't want to be proven wrong again. The power he holds over all of us is death. When biological life ends, all chances for us to prove him wrong end also.

But there is good news. The Creator became a man. Two thousand years ago, his life—the very life of God—entered into the creation and took human form (John 1:9-14). As both God and man, Jesus Christ was able to substitute his morally perfect life for your flawed one. He died to satisfy the justice which resides at the core of God's nature. In resolving our failure, we took on his righteousness. It was an exchange—his righteousness for our failure. As part of the exchange, we received new life. His life. The life we received is not stopped by the end of biological life. Jesus's life is eternal (John 4:13-14).

What this means is that we are no longer controlled by the fear of death, as the writer of Hebrews says (Heb. 2:14-15). It's no longer the end of our purpose. It doesn't define our life's pursuits. We have no worries about the future. The loss of anything in this life—our jobs, our health, our money—means nothing in light of the adventure that awaits. Those who don't fear can take a risk and invest themselves in something that matters. This is what faith is—trusting God with your life and not spending it on meaningless diversions. God calls you to a new destiny, and you can start pursuing it right now. The path he calls you to includes peace, love, and blessings.

The things that control you make you their slave. Open your hands and let them go. Accept the new life that Jesus offers. If you already know Christ but have started to worry, draw near to God and find yourself in his presence once again. In the presence of the Almighty, there is no reason to fear (Isa. 41:10).

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