Enemy Behind the Lines-Fear Part IIApril 6, 2009
Fear cripples most of us and we do not know how infested our camp is with fear until we are faced with one of these moments. Most of the time, myself included, we back down and simply retreat thinking there will be another day to fight. I have thought the same, but have been asked by Christ through my spirit, “What if the battle you needed to fight was today?” That’s a hard question to answer.
Paul and Silas may have had some fear about singing hymns while in prison, but then again, what did they have to lose? Chances are, they were told they would be executed or beaten. They had a bodily threat where today, most of us only have a threat to our egos. Paul and Silas had a greater fear though: the fear of the Lord. They knew who was truly in control and submitted themselves to Christ again, in the midst of their fear. Sometimes, that is all Christ is wanting from us, simple submission. I am quite sure that as these two men sang, their fear began to subside back into the darkened corners of the prison where it belonged.
What are some of the fears most Christians have but may not know about? Here are just a few!
Ok, I realize they are not major things to others, but to me, the sight of a rooster or a clown begins the slow shutting down of major life systems in my body. My chest gets tight; I can hear my heartbeat in my head, and get physically ill, all within only two or three seconds of the initial sighting. So, regardless of what anyone else sees in these evil winged animals and demonic looking clowns, I am petrified.
I remember the first time I confessed my fear of roosters and clowns to someone close to me. It was a major leap of faith for me to confess such a fear to anyone and actually have to admit I was vulnerable. Before you ask the question, yes, this person laughed when I told them. In that moment, however, I realized the tremendous fear of confession I was harboring. It was almost harder telling someone else I had a flaw than it would be facing a clown holding a rooster.
A fear of confession is real and needs to be dealt with. I would venture to say all of us, on some level, have a fear of confession. It is not easy for us to dismount from our pedestal to mention even so much as one of the flaws we have.
If you don’t think you have this particular fear, let me ask you one question. What is that one sin you try your hardest to ensure no one knows about? Now, think about telling that sin to someone close to you, a way of confessing it and dealing with it. Do you realize now you have this fear?
As mentioned above, sometimes fear and pride go hand in hand, as would be the case with humiliation. We all try our hardest to “save face” in front of our friends, families, and co-workers. It seems there are some things in life that are not much different than grade school. Whether we admit it or not, we are still in the race to be sure we are wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, have the right technology, driving the right car, etc.
A fear of humiliation is a devastating enemy behind the line. This particular fear might keep you from sharing your testimony with one of your co-workers. It could keep you from asking a burning question for fear of not knowing the answer. The fear of humiliation keeps us on the bench, spectators to Christianity. Fear of humiliation would be the equivalent of a soccer player having the fear of running. It’s counter to the Christian DNA.
The fear of humiliation is usually brought about through a past experience. It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act. In most instances, humiliation may not be known to anyone but you, even if it happens in a room full of people. I have seen some who later tell of events where they were humiliated, yet on the outside, they were laughing at themselves along with everyone else.
Rejection and humiliation are different animals, but close in kin. Humiliation is not as personal to me as rejection is. In my humble definition, rejection involves the submission of myself to someone, only to be rejected by them. Humiliation can be done unintentionally, however, rejection, almost by definition, has to be personal. It is a devilish beast to deal with.
If you think about people in your life, most have this fear which may be tied to something that happened in their families, a past relationship or some other type of situation. It is a far reaching, deeply rooted fear that eventually permeates everywhere in their lives.
The fear of rejection works a lot like humiliation when it comes to a Christian’s walk. Rejection often prevents a Christian from being involved in a small group, or an evangelistic group. Of all the fears, however, I believe this has the greatest potential for change. Why? Christ, of all people, knows the feeling of rejection all to well. He was rejected by followers, Peter, teachers, clerics, politicians and numerous others. From the cross he yelled, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Someone who is dealing with the fear of rejection might want to cry out the same sometimes.
Atychiphobia-the official name of the fear of failure. I can identify with this one in particular. Most of us have a fear of failure, disappointing those you love or simply just failing. People who fear failure do not take any type of risks, play not to lose-if they even play at all. It can be a crippling and at times, but it is not beyond victory.
If we find ourselves with the fear of failure, we should be greatly comforted by several of the characters of the Bible. Failure seems to be a great theme throughout Scriptures. Of all of the great failures, Peter is my favorite. He seemed to be a complete pro at it. He slipped up while trying to walk on water. He sliced off the ear of the high priest’s servant. When the time came to step up, he denied knowing Christ three times. Regardless of these, Christ still had an affection for him. Christ saw the reasoning behind his failures… passion. That is something Christ can work with.
As I mentioned before, I have had my own struggles with the fear of failure. I always equated Christian with holiness and holiness with perfection. Warped vision I know. In prayer, I brought my fear of failure to the Cross several times, but always managed to take it back. There was one time, however, Christ did not let me take it back. It was time I learned to get past this fear.
In my Prayer Place, I was shown a cup and a nail. Every time I thought of a failure, the nail would put a hole in the cup. Eventually, there were several holes in the cup. Christ asked me, “What do you see?” Of course, my answer was, “the holes.” Christ pointed out that His Grace was like water being poured into the cup. As the water poured out through holes, it was clear to me that my faults, weaknesses, my holes was what allowed his grace to pour through my life… minister to others if you will.
Although I thought it was over, Christ turned the cup open face down and placed a candle under it. As you would guess, the light from the candle shown through the holes. It was quite apparent the message given to me… embrace my failures, they are what Christ uses to glorify himself.
Overcoming our Fear
I love the story of Paul and Silas and I believe it has a lot to tell us about fear. In a way, all of us become imprisoned by our various fears. My fear keeps me from farms and circuses. For some, it keeps them from flying, others might not ever take a risk and share the Gospel with someone out of fear of rejection or humiliation. Fear can be a powerful enemy.
Let’s look at Paul and Silas and how they dealt with fear. As a result of their prayers and praise through their fear, a Phillippian jailer was converted. Their choice to overcome their fear through fervent prayer and worship saved not only the jailer, but his family. What a testimony we have in this passage! As a Christian Warrior, we are called to be bold and fearless in Christ. Greater is he that we serve than he that comes against us. If we all were to realize this slippery enemy in our own camp, perhaps Christ could use us more to reach out to the lost men we are constantly working with, speaking to, working out with, coaching with, etc. Could you imagine the impact it would have on the Kingdom?
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:
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About the Writer:
Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.
As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses. This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.