To Be Afraid, Or To Not Be Afraid?
BY MARK LIU
(This article has been edited for blog-posting. Original article appeared in RE:NEW Magazine Issue 3: #nofilter. Read other articles from this issue here.)
To be afraid, or to not be afraid?
That is the question most of us face today. Is our faith something we need to hide from the world? Or is it something we should be proud of and be free to show to the world? I know there are many believers out there who can relate to this dilemma. The world looks at Christians and treats them as if they were from a different planet. To them, we are a weird group of people. We don’t like being labeled as such, and we would rather have others see us positively. So our solution is to hide from the world, or sometimes even peers within the Church (who may not share the same passion for the Lord as you do), to be free of judgment from and conflict with others. We don’t want to be the person that is left out from the rest of the group. Some of us will even go to great lengths to put a covering over our spiritual identity so that we will be accepted by others.
There were times in my life where I put on a persona to keep other people from thinking that I was a Christian, and I truly thought that everything would be okay. But as I continued to uphold this persona, there was an unsatisfying groan that began to grow inside me. This groan that came straight from my heart was the longing to become true, not only to myself and others, but also to God. I finally realized that it was not okay, and the Lord began to speak to my heart about this issue.
He knew that I loved Him, but I struggled with a fear I felt like I couldn’t get over. The Lord said to me, “I am your friend; you do not need to be afraid.” Though He is high and lofty, He humbled Himself by becoming a man to show us the richness of His compassion, gentleness, and kindness towards us. Why? Because He wanted to be our friend.
When I think about this, I ask myself, “Is there any good reason why I should hide my friend from the entire world?” I get excited about introducing my friends who are friendly and kind to other people. If that is how I feel about my earthly friends, how much more excited should I be about the One Friend who calls Himself “perfect in love”?
God is on a mission to look for friends in the world not because He is lacking something, but because He is perfect love and wants to give that love to all that He has created so all will know His goodness. We have been given a privilege to partner with Him in this great adventure. We, who were once enemies of God, under condemnation and shame, were tossed left and right by the evil powers of this world. But now, having being given the opportunity to be called friends of God and to experience Him as our Savior, we see that to live and die without ever knowing the goodness of God is a terrible tragedy. So why not partner with our Friend today, who wants a deeper relationship with the whole world, to extend that goodness to others so they may live in Christ and call Him friend too?
We truly do not have to be afraid to share this newfound life with others. Every one of us who has faith in Jesus has the privilege to walk in freedom. This freedom liberates us to walk wholeheartedly with Jesus. Fear is no longer our master. We walk in boldness and confidence knowing that Jesus has overcome fear and condemnation. Sometimes we forget or don’t know that we can choose not to be scared. What is there to fear anyway? You are in the Lord, the most powerful being that ever existed. So our identity is in Jesus, not the world.
Whatever the world may say about me or you has no power over us, because we have a Father in Heaven who loves us with an unconditional love. That is where we have all our hope, trust, and confidence. If the voices of the world are too loud in your heart, then simply look towards Jesus. Sit with Him and talk to Him about your issues. It’s very important to be real with God. Ask Him what He thinks about you, and not what the world thinks. Believe me, He is not there to condemn you: He is there to remind you that you are much more than what the world says you are. Let His words be your strength instead. Let Jesus’ voice roar in your heart, and you will no longer be afraid of what the world thinks about you. You will be bold, you will be confident, and nothing will be able to hold you back from being 100% real about Jesus in your life. Take the time to ponder these things with God, then ask yourself, “Should I be afraid?”