Posted on July 30, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
We think of being ‘fearless’ as acting ‘without fear,’ but we all know that is not true. Anyone standing their ground to confront a wrong has felt the pounding of their heart as the tension grows. Fear is not a bad thing; it is what keeps us from acting stupid, and without regard for truth in stressful situations. Solomon wrote, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Holiness, the very nature of God, is not to be messed with, and our understanding of this keeps us from living with indifference towards God’s Word and in danger of His perfect justice. Fear keeps us between the guardrails of truth and understanding while transversing the boundaries of our circumstances.
Fearless is better defined as courageous, bold, and undaunted. These describe someone who is not subdued or depressed by their fear, meaning they don’t let their fear in the driver’s seat of their life. The fearless person puts fear in the backseat with its mouth stuffed full of truth nuggets and a cold cup of courage.
Too often, that’s our problem, we let fear drive, and it takes us places we should not go. A poem retold by W. Somerset Maugham in 1933 brings this truth to light; it’s called “The Appointment in Samarra,” where the speaker is Death. It begins, “There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd, and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra, and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks, and as fast as the horse could gallop, he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace, and he saw me standing in the crowd, and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”
The servant allowed his fear and not the truth drive him right into Death’s hands; if he had stayed within the guardrails of reality and understanding, he would have been steered by confidence and peace.
Samuel Cooper was an early colonial officer in the Revolutionary War. He wrote in 1774 concerning the kind of example he wanted his life to portray, he penned “The Dangers we are to Encounter I (do) not know, but it shall never be said to my children, ‘your father was a coward.’ Many soldiers, despite their youth, have written similar words to those they knew they might leave behind.
Believers in Christ need to heed these words and step out of the warm fuzzy notion that faith in Christ is all about our personal security. Peter stepped out of the boat, despite a storm, in response to Jesus’ command. When we recall this event in Matthew 14, we remember him as lacking faith… probably because that makes us more comfortable with his actions. Still, he wasn’t cowering in panic like the rest of the disciples, hiding behind their fears. Peter put his fear aside and allowed Jesus’s word to drive his response.
The church needs to understand that it is genuinely thriving only when things start happening, ‘outside the boat of fear’ and in the world around them. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:13-14 NLT) because it is the world that God is aiming to redeem and renew. Until something starts happening in the community around believers, the church is a failure. This kind of influence requires a fearless response by believers.
Stephen stood boldly before the religious masses and proclaimed their guilt. He challenged, “You stubborn people! You are heathen at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you! Name one prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One—the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered. You deliberately disobeyed God’s law, even though you received it from the hands of angels.”
The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” (Acts 7:51-59 NLT)
Did you see the source of his fearlessness? Stephen wasn’t some superman who stood on a bunch of personal opinions; No! He was “full of the Spirit!” He offered himself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as true and proper worship. He did not conform to the pattern of this world but was transformed by the renewing of his mind. This was because he was full of the Spirit and humbly submitted to His work in conjunction with God’s Word. It was then he was able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will…. and fearlessly proclaimed what he agreed was authentic before the angry religious crowd.
This courageous and undaunting life is available to all who believe in Jesus and walk with the Spirit. By God’s grace, you will “love from the center of who you are, not faking it. You will run for dear life from evil, holding on for dear life to good. You will be good friends who love deeply, and practice playing second fiddle. You won’t burn out, but keep yourselves fueled and aflame. You will live as alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant, never quitting in hard times, praying all the harder, helping needy believers, and be inventive in hospitality.
You will bless your enemies, with no cursing under your breath. You will laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy, and share tears when they’re down. You will get along with each other, not being stuck-up, making friends with nobodies, and not be the great somebody.
You won’t have to hit back, but discover beauty in everyone. By the Spirit, you will have it in you to get along with everybody, and not insist on getting even; you will trust God in every circumstance. You will understand, “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (Romans 12:9-19) This is the life God offers You as a package deal through belief in Jesus, His Son, and our Savior. This is the life the Spirit will lead you through, but only if you stick fear in the backseat and let the Spirit drive your life.
When we stop trying to keep some rules and working our heads off to please God and others, which never works, we will live the life Jesus showed us, and the Spirit enables us to do… we will be fearless! When we identify ourselves completely with Christ, being crucified with Him as a living sacrifice, our ego is then no longer central. It is no longer necessary that we appear righteous before anyone, or driven to impress God. Christ now lives in us. The life we live is not “ours,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loves us and gave himself for us.” (Galatians 2: 19-21 MSG)
If we don’t retreat from the truth, we will be fearless. The choice is yours… you can let fear drive you where you should not go, Or… let the Spirit lead you into all truth… where your thinking is renewed, and you live in agreement with God. Let him guide you to a place where He can pour through you the love of Christ that changes the world around you.. a place where your faith in God impacts your community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Be fearless today and see an extraordinary transformation around you that honors and glorifies our God.
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Think About This: “You can endure change by pondering His permanence” – Max Lucado
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ -1 Peter 1:13
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.