A few years ago the book Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis was released. The book told the true story of a young woman in her early 20’s that left behind her riches in America to move to Uganda and serve Jesus. She eventually started a non-profit there and adopted 13 young girls. I repeat, she became a single mother in her 20’s to 13 girls as she ran a non-profit in Uganda. And it was really messing with a bunch of us here in America.
I invited a bunch of women to read through this book with me and had some over to discuss it. During our discussion, the question was asked, “Could we live with reckless abandon and surrender like this?”
Someone commented, “Yeah, but in a lot of ways that seems easier. It seems so much easier to move to Africa and share Jesus and do what she’s doing than it does in my own neighborhood.”
I think my brain locked up a little bit. Easier? Easier to leave behind your friends, family, comfort, Baja Fresh, Starbucks, and Netflix to move across the world and live alone serving and caring for the poor, rather than just sharing Jesus with your neighbor here in America? I don’t know about you, but moving to Africa doesn’t sound easier to me.
As I processed that idea a bit more, I realized what was truly underneath that comment. It wasn’t that moving to Africa is “easier,” it’s that we’re filled with fear. We fear man more than we fear God.
The reason we don’t walk across the street and share Jesus is most certainly not because it’s harder than moving to Africa. The reason we don’t walk across the street is because we fear the people across the street more than we fear God. We think moving to a place where no one knows us is the answer to our fear of evangelism, because we don’t have a history and relationship with those people. When we share with strangers, we don’t have to worry about what they think of us or our whole life stories–we can just tell them the facts, with no relational investment, then leave as if that’s somehow the way evangelism works.
Sharing Jesus isn’t about hard or easy, it’s about fear.
But that’s not how evangelism works. And that’s not how obedience works. Sharing Jesus isn’t about hard or easy, it’s about fear.
Yes, it’s fear that usually holds us back from of obedience, but it’s also the right kind of fear that moves us forward: the fear of God. This woman moved to Africa because she feared God. She actually listened to the call on her life to go to Uganda and responded in obedience because the fear of God ruled over every other fear in her heart. Obedience isn’t about less fear and more courage, it’s about more of the right kind of fear.
When we live out of the fear of what people think of us, we live paralyzed. When we fear God more than anything, our obedience becomes easier, decisions become more clear, and life is lived with purpose.
Obedience isn’t about less fear and more courage, it’s about more of the right kind of fear.
This spring I have been studying the book of Proverbs with some wonderful women at Trinity Community Church. According to my search, the phrase “Fear of the LORD” shows up in Proverbs 15 times, which is more than any other book in the bible.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
The fear of the Lord prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. (Proverbs 10:27)
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. (Proverbs 14:26)
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:27)
The fear of the Lord leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil. (Proverbs 19:23)
The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. (Proverbs 29:25)
The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.
Fear of man tells us to shrink back, withhold, and run away.
Fear of the Lord tells us to move forward, enter in, and obey.
Fear of man tells us to care about what others think.
Fear of the Lord tells us to care only about what God thinks.
Fear of man tells us to do what makes others happy.
Fear of the Lord tells us to do what pleases God.
Fear of man makes the approval of others an idol.
Fear of the Lord leads us to a life focused on God’s approval.
Fear of man will always lead us to the path of destruction.
Fear of the Lord will lead us to life and life abundant.
Fear of man is paralyzing.
Fear of God is freeing.
Fear of man is paralyzing. Fear of God is freeing.
God may not be calling you to Africa or to even walk across the street. But He is calling you to a place of obedience, trust, and surrender. He is calling you to walk in the right kind of fear.
Do you struggle with the fear of man? Is there an area in your life that you have sought approval from others rather than approval from God? Do you tend to shrink back rather than obey?
If so, know this: I’m praying for you today. I’m praying God would increase your fear; the kind of fear that helps you see God and His love as the most important thing in your life. I’m praying today that you begin to fear God more than any other thing. Would you pray the same for me? Let’s be a generation that lives with reckless abandon and pursuit of God in fear of Him and Him alone.
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Image Credit: Justin Kern, Creative Commons