Series: An edited adaptation of the book Prayer, Power, and Proclamation by C.L.Peppler published by Chrispy Publications in 2009 (ISBN 978-0-620-43583-3). Part 5:
Fear is a powerful inhibitor to enlightenment. We usually fear what we do not understand and therefore cannot control. We have carefully constructed a fortress-like mindset specifically to protect ourselves from the unknown and the uncontrollable. It is fearful to even contemplate thinking differently, let alone experiencing a different reality. So, how do we overcome this fear? We overcome it by focusing on Jesus.
On the mount of transfiguration, the three disciples were afraid when Moses and Elijah appeared, they were very scared when the glory cloud rolled in, and they were terrified when God the Father spoke. They fell, face down, onto the ground, but Jesus went to them, touched them, and told them to get up and not to be afraid. When they looked up, they saw only Jesus. The things that had made them so afraid were all gone and only Jesus remained. The antidote to our fear of the unknown is the realisation that Jesus is a reliable guide. He is entirely trustworthy, and he knows exactly what lies ahead in the cloud of unknowing. If we put our faith in him, then we have no reason to fear. He says to us, as he said to the synagogue ruler so long ago, “don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark 5:36).
This series is thoroughly Christ-centred and, because of this, some of the proposals I make are very different to much traditional thinking. When you encounter these proposals, simply ask “what did Jesus say and do concerning this?”
Discomfort (dis-ease) with mystery
Inverted kingdoms, mindset, and fear are all interrelated, as is the fourth impediment to spiritual progress, the discomfort with mystery. We love a mystery story, so long as in the end we are told that the butler was the one ‘who done it’. We get very frustrated when the TV set goes on the blink just before the villain’s identity is revealed. We love formulas and rules. Most of us are uncomfortable with ambiguity. Look at the titles of the books that sell best in the spirituality/self-help/psychology section of the local bookstore. They carry titles such as ‘Seven steps to prosperity’, ‘Three keys to abundant health’, and so on. We seem to be happiest when someone else has given us a formula for living or understanding. ‘Pastor, how much should I give to the church?’ If the dear man says ‘ten percent’, then we are happy because either we can disagree and rebel, or we can feel righteous by putting a tithe of our earnings into the offering bag. We are happy to paint by numbers, so to speak, but unhappy to paint on a blank sheet.
Perhaps the solution to our discomfort with the unknown is to acknowledge that mystery is a fundamental part of spiritual reality. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9), and that is just the way it should be. The New Testament contains references to several ‘mysteries’ and Jesus constantly spoke in parables and then used the mystery, saying, “he who has ears to hear let him hear”. God will reveal some things to us, but not all things. So, we must reconcile ourselves to walking, as Peter and company did, in the glory cloud of mystery. What an exciting prospect this is!
Failure to acknowledge that we live in an inverted kingdom, a materialistic mindset, fear of the unknown, and dis-ease with mystery are impediments to living and ministering with passion and power. One other underlying cause is, I believe, the single most significant reason for our spiritual anaemia – we do not realise who we really are.
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