Why is the Church Afraid?

I’ve lost track of how many Facebook posts and conversations I’ve seen of Christians who are afraid or worried about the election or the moral decay of America. Maybe I’m ignorant, but I don’t understand it.

Why are we worried? Why are we concerned?

Why are we afraid?

Three Possible Reasons to be Afraid

We may have our own reasons. Perhaps it’s concern for loved ones or the nation we love so much. But all these reasons boil down to three possible motivators.

1. We don’t want the Church to fracture and fail or disappear entirely.

I really hope this isn’t the reason we’re afraid. Remember, Jesus said he would build his Church and the gates of Hades would not overpower it (Matthew 16:18). The Church will be built. Period.

This reason for fear may seem altruistic, but it really betrays a lack of faith in God to come through on his promise. Trust him. It’s his Church, his plan.

2. We don’t want our loved ones to face personal harm.

I can totally understand this one. I find myself worrying about the safety of my family nearly every day. It’s natural to want to protect our family. It’s good to want to protect our family.

At the same time, Jesus promised we would have trouble (John 16:33). I can’t find a place he promised physical safety 100% of the time. He did promise God cares for us and has our best interests in mind (Matthew 6:31-33). Paul also said God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). But this is a far cry from guaranteed physical safety.

This reason may seem loving and caring as we desire the safety of our family and friends. However, we need to remember that God loves our family and friends more than we could. Trust him. He loves them more than you do and knows what’s best for them.

3. We don’t want people to reject Jesus and go to Hell.

This may be the best of the three reasons. The Church will continue, God cares for our family and friends (though he doesn’t guarantee their physical safety), but without Jesus people will go to Hell. It’s not too complicated.

But remember,

“The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, NET).

While the entrance of a single person into eternal judgment is tragic, it will be just. There are no undeserving people who will face eternal judgment, and there are no deserving people who will face eternal life.

We may fear for the lost. That’s a good thing. But that should motivate us to show them the love and grace of God, not fear the moral decline of our country. The gospel is good news and light to the darkest places. God’s grace is enough for even the worst sinners.

Three Reasons Not to Be Afraid

Maybe you think you have every reason in the world to be afraid of the current situation in America. Let me encourage you: Don’t be afraid!

1 Peter 4:12-13 – You Will Share in Christ’s Glory

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad.”

Any suffering or hardship you may face, any assault on your faith or your morals is an opportunity to share in the sufferings of Christ. This is normal for Christians. We should expect it, not fear it. Our savior experienced the same thing.

John 16:33 – Jesus Won the Battle a Long Time Ago

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage–I have conquered the world.”

Take courage! Be at peace! Those are strong words for people facing moral decline and national agendas that move toward persecuting Christians. The ultimate battle is over. Now Jesus wants us to have courage to face what lies before us and be at peace with his victory in the end. Don’t be afraid of persecution or loss of rights. Take courage! Be at peace!

Revelation 2-3 – Those Who Endure Will Join Jesus

At the end of every letter to seven churches in Revelation, we find a statement that begins something like: “To the one who endures [conquers, perseveres, overcomes]”. Regardless of how we interpret Revelation (whether literal prophecy or figurative allegory) the call for Christians to endure is a theme throughout the entire book.

The ones who do will eat from the tree of life, will be unharmed by the second death, will eat the hidden manna and receive a new name, will have authority over the nations, will be dressed in white clothing, will be a pillar in the temple of God, and will sit with Jesus on his throne. He conquered and endured first, those who endure suffering because of him will join him.

Conclusion

Don’t be afraid! I don’t care who gets elected. I don’t care what laws get passed. I don’t care if they take away our rights and execute us all. Don’t be afraid!

Instead,

“since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I don’t know why it seems the church in America can’t get ahead of the game and turn this country around. But I do know it doesn’t change our mission or our call to face it with courage and peace. When the world closes in around us and evil threatens to take away our lives, don’t be afraid!

Josh

Josh Havens is a founding member of Theology in Progress. He and his wife and son live in Springfield, MO, and love to walk with people as they become fully devoted followers of Jesus. He's also addicted to Rubik's cubes and enjoys trying to figure out any puzzle or problem put in front of him. Josh has an M.Div. with a concentration in Expository Preaching from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.

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