The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
If someone were to ask me what I believe to be one of the biggest sins that we face as young adults I think the fear of man would top the list. I have found that many people live a life that is marked by an evident fear of how they are perceived or how their reputation is affected.
A good example of what I am talking about is this past Tuesday night at The Well. We spent the night at a local park where we had volleyball, soccer and basketball along with other various activities. We were all having a great time, then we gathered for a time of singing and listening to God’s Word. Here is where the atmosphere of the night changed. Instead of energy and smiles all around, now there was a sense of awkwardness that seemed to take over. We were scared to sing in public!
“What if someone heard how tone deaf I am? What if the neighbors over at the playground areas laughed at me? I better not be too loud or too expressive, that would be embarrassing.”
I am sure that went through peoples’ minds, I know it did mine. Why is that? Simple, we are afraid of what others think more than we are of what God thinks.
I mean we had the beautiful Sandia Mountains in front of us, an amazing sunset to the left of us. The Heavens were screaming “Glory!!! Glory!!!” and yet we were afraid for our friend to hear our voice. We were overcome by what others think more than what He thought and heard.
Our lives and culture are marked by this fear.
Why do we buy $40 T-Shirts with the name of the store we got it at on it?
Why do we shop at The Buckle for $100 jeans and not Wal-Mart?
Why are we afraid to tell our friends about a Holy God who they have offended, and how the ONLY way to salvation is through Jesus Christ??
We are petrified of others’ perception of us.
It is the same reason that the people of Israel wanted a king. They wanted to be like the nations around them, they wanted to fit in. They had a King, the King of Kings leading them and loving them, but they wanted something that made them blend in, something that made them fit in.
We do too.
By nature we are man-fearing creatures. This changes though in a beautiful way when we are saved. No longer are we enslaved to the views of this world or of those around us. We have had our eyes open to the beauty, Holiness and majesty of our Great God, the One, whose opinion of us really does matter. We begin to see how He sees. We see our sin and unworthiness and are brought low only to be lifted up by the news of His Son who has come.
We learn of a God who demands perfection from us, who demands us to fear Him above all else. We learn that we have failed at this miserably and deserve full punishment for this. We learn that God has taken our punishment on the cross in the person of Jesus Christ. That He rose 3 days after death and now to those who trust in His name and His work, He freely gives us His perfection and status. He puts His life on us because He took on our life and guilt on Himself.
This is grace that changes everything.
We are not perfect yet though. Like the night at The Park we will find moments that we fear man over God. Here we are called to repent (turn from that way of living and thinking) and trust in Jesus once again. We are called to fear God, love God and love each other in a way that is reckless, radical and sometimes embarrassing by the world’s standards.
I wish I could say that I have this fear of man thing whipped, I don’t. I do know though that “...he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). And I look forward to that day when my fear, my love, my mind and my life will be captivated fully and completely by Jesus and only Jesus, forever!