Celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The instability of today’s political climate, both in the U.S. and globally, intensifies our human tendency to seek refuge in the security of our emotional and ideological fortresses. Just the boarding process alone at any airport is a constant reminder of imminent attack, not to mention the heartrending headlines from Orlando, San Bernardino, and even recently Ohio State – right in my own backyard. Threats from North Korea, international tensions among global nuclear powers and the continuing threat of militant Islam can also lead us as followers of Jesus to place our trust in “chariots and horses” instead of the Lord our God.
Fear also fosters the spirit of isolationism that leads the church to be more partisan and nationalistic than Christian. We forget that “Christ himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Phil 2:14). We instead join the cultural rush to build more walls that divide – erecting barriers, not destroying them.
It is in the midst of these very times of chaos that God calls his people to act courageously. We read in the Old Testament how the children of God allowed the paralysis of fear to turn what should have been an exodus trip of a few months into a forty-year waste of a lifetime for a whole generation. When Joshua was preparing to lead the new generation into the land of God’s promise, here is what God said to him:
"Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in accordance with all the law that my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go (Josh 1:6-7, NRSV)."
We can’t follow the lead of the negative and fearful resisters, or we will be buried in the wilderness with them!
Faith is not the absence of fear. Faith is feeling the fear and then acting on the promises and purpose of God anyway. Faith is when every cell in your body is screaming, “Run!” while you continue to follow forward in obedience, praying, “Not my will, Lord, but your will be done!” Faith is the proactive response, in spite of those feelings and uncertainties, to the mandates of heaven.
At the heart of every decision we make as Jesus’ followers is a choice between the courage of Christ or compliance with the prevailing culture. Will we boldly take the difficult road and go beyond our comfort zones into the places of Christ’s calling? Will we reach out to all people God loves regardless of theological differences, politic persuasion, gender, skin color or country of origin? Or will we settle for what has always been, hunkering down in the bunkers of our church walls, bowing to the wishes of the fearful resisters?
Mike Slaughter is the almost four-decade chief dreamer and lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. Mike’s call to "afflict the comfortable" challenges Christians to wrestle with God and their God-destinies. Join Mike for his final CHANGE the WORLD missional church conference as lead pastor on March 16/17, 2017. His newest books are Down to Earth, The Passionate Church and The Christian Wallet.