I have the privilege of serving at my church’s youth ministry, and last year we had the theme “Faith Factor”, which is clever Christian twist on the popular reality show, Fear Factor. This got me thinking, about the meanings of these words. To better understand the sayings, I looked up the meaning of these three words.
FACTOR: [NOUN]: A circumstance, fact or influence that contributes (helps to bring) a result
FAITH: [NOUN]: Complete trust or confidence in someone or something
FEAR: [NOUN]: A feeling that something unpleasant may happen. Caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm
As I read through these definitions, the sayings started making more sense to me. See, I always thought that faith and fear can coexist. But once I read these definitions, I came to the realisation that they actually cannot exist in your life together. Both faith and fear are such dominant factors and both want to control your life and determine its outcome. Don’t get me wrong, there is such thing as fear that is good. For example, the fear of failing a test motivates us to study. However, if you allow that fear to consume your life, you begin to miss out on all the beauties of life and all the miracles God has to offer because all you spend your time doing is studying.
As Christians, we believe that faith is the only thing that will lead us to heaven. In Ephesians 2 Paul writes,
8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
There is nothing we can do (Romans 3:21-31) to ever deserve to get into heaven.
23-26: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”
That’s the fact of the matter. We are so undeserving, every day we sin but faith and God’s undeserving grace has changed all of that.
Faith, in the bible is defined as belief and trust in God. It is knowing that God is real even though we cannot see him. This is best read in Hebrews 11, where Paul writes about numerous history makers in the bible who pioneered through their fear, fixed their eyes upon Jesus and had faith so strong that they helped shape Christianity today. Some of my favourite verses are
1: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
3: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
12:2: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
As a Christian, faith is everything to us. And fear, stops our faith from growing. Fear numbs us and makes us comfortable with where we are in our lives and our situations. Fear stops you from starting and finishing your race. And this is best seen in two well-known stories of the bible.
Fear that stops you from starting:
Everybody knows the story of David and Goliath. It’s a Sunday school favourite. We read about David’s heroic actions, David overcoming the odds, David the champion. But what about the Israeli army that were meant to fight. Israel, God’s chosen people, not even attempting to take battle in 1 Samuel 17 and leaving it to a little shepherd boy
23-24 “Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid”
Right here we read how the men of Israel looked at Goliath and were so numbed by their fear that they completely forgot everything God had done for them because all they focused on was what Goliath could do to them.
Goliath had been taunting the army of Israel for days. And that’s the problem with fear. The enemy uses it to tell you everything you are not. The enemy says you’re not old enough, rich enough, smart enough, and brave enough. The enemy reminds you of your past failure and tells you it’s not worth starting again.
But God says He will meet you were you are and bless you with whatever you need to start your battle. God takes everything you are and turns it into greatness. His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Passion City’s Louie Giglio preached a message called “Fear must fall” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdbFVMp-7Pk
] which served as an inspiration for this post. If you ever have a free hour I would recommend giving it a listen, it’s part of the series “Goliath must fall” and it’s a life changer.
In it, Louie Giglio speaks about how easy it is to get pumped up on faith when we’re in a church environment but when we get out in battle, we fall at the enemy’s feet because we see the perceived threat. That’s the problem with fear. It diminishes God’s glory in your life, making you see everything you can’t do when all God wants is for you to see everything you could be.
Fear stops you from finishing
The story of Jesus walking on water is one of the most popular stories of the New Testament. We read it in Matthew 7 where Peter steps out of the boat and begins to walk to Jesus
30-31: “But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
There are three things I noted from these two verses.
1. Peter, although scared, had enough faith to leave the boat to get to Jesus
Out of the 12, Peter, the one who would deny Jesus, was the only one who was brave enough to step out of the safety of the boat and walk on water through a storm to Jesus. God does this too often. He calls us out of safety into situations that seem impossible. Do you have enough faith to get out of your boat?
2. Peter began to sink when he looked at the storm
Notice how Peter only began to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and noticed the storm surrounding him. How fitting is Hebrews 12:2 in this story. Had Peter just kept looking forward, kept his eyes fixed on the one who was standing on water waiting for him. What situation are you focusing on when you should be focusing on Jesus?
3. Peter was within arm’s length of Jesus when he began to sink
My favourite line in the story, and possibly the whole bible is in verse 31; Immediately Jesus reached out His hand. Immediately means instantly. With no wait. Jesus didn’t let Peter sink far down, he grabbed his hand immediately. But more importantly, all he did was reach out his hand. He didn’t run over or wait. Peter was arm’s length of Jesus, all he needed was to take one more step. Just one more. But the enemy does this too often. When he sees how close you are to Jesus, he attacks by reminding you of your insecurities, your past and whatever else he can throw at you. He throws whatever he can to make you not finish your race. But Jesus is there, arm’s length away, waiting for you to call his name so he can save you. So call out to Him. He’s waiting for you.