Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you...Do not fear or be dismayed. - Deuteronomy 31:6, 8b
If you've read this blog for very long, you've probably picked up on the fact that fear is something I struggle with. Timidity. Fear of man. Hesitancy. A propensity for way over-analyzing things. Reluctance to just jump in and enter the fray.
My son and I were talking this past weekend about fear within the church, about a lack of courage that inhibits us from jumping into the fray of modern life. My son recently completed a degree in biology at a secular university. He described his tenure in the sacred halls of organic evolution as a trial by fire. He walked into this profane temple with his eyes wide open, willing to hear out the secular priests, ready to engage and to dialogue. He described his four years in the biology department as grueling, as mentally and emotionally and spiritually exhausting.
He is tired after four years of secular university, but he is also stronger. And, he is zealous to let the world know - and the church in particular - that God is quite equal to the challenge of facing down false gods. Even professional scientists realize that the foundations of evolutionism are crumbling away, and they are scrambling to find something else to explain the natural world - something else, anything but God - before the rest of us witness the crash of their temple. Meanwhile, many of us in the church are so afraid that the doctrine of evolution (or whatever is the current explanation of life put out by the scientific community) will unravel our faith, will render God an inadequate and unnecessary myth, that we don't even engage.
We're like children, frightened by a bad dream, cringing in our beds with our eyes tightly closed, almost too afraid to even breathe.
We lie paralyzed in the darkness, terrified that if we even think about the bogeyman, he might sneak up and bite us. With our blankets pulled up over our heads, we chant silently to ourselves, "I'm not afraid! I'm not afraid!"
But we are afraid. Afraid because we think our adversary may be right, may be too big, too strong.
My biologist son is also an artist. Here, too, he finds that, largely, the church has abdicated its voice and influence. Geoff Stevens writes in the May 2013 issue of Tabletalk: "As Christians, we see so many things in the art world that repel us that we're left wondering if perhaps the problem is inherent in the emotional and subjective nature of art itself. Some may even ask: Should we care about artists and their work at all?"
Oh, how we need to know better the God who saves us! To know His power and wisdom and majesty and sovereignty and justice and holiness! In the beginning, God... This is His world, we are His creatures, and He is more than able to answer our questions, meet our needs, and face our fears. God Himself enables and empowers us to, as Stevens puts it, "thoughtfully interact with our culture as it gropes in the dark for answers."
We don't have to cower in our pews, afraid of the scientists and artists and politicians and philosophers of our day. No, we can sit across the table from them, look them calmly in the eyes and ask, "Tell me what you're thinking. Can we talk about this?"
It is time to open our eyes, stand up on our feet, walk across this dark room, and turn on the light.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. - John 1:1, 4-5