Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lucy - the doctor is in

Lucy Van Pelt has often been misunderstood. All she ever tries to do is help people, and she gets so little thanks for all of her efforts. Sure she might be a little crass, but at least she is honest. She has tried harder than anyone else to help Charlie Brown adjust to the realities of life. Is it really her fault that he doesn’t trust anyone? Well maybe.

For a mere five cents Lucy will enthusiastically help anyone identify their phobias. In fact, Lucy is willing to create a phobia just for you if you don’t already have one. Lucy insists that naming our phobias is the first step in overcoming our fears and being able to move on to good psychiatric health. Of course, Lucy gets her five cents either way.

Lucy encapsulates one of the basic tenets of modern psychological wisdom. The current practice is to name our fears so that we can overcome our fears. There really is nothing to fear but fear itself. Some fears are irrational, but should all fear be eradicated?

We fear all kinds of things – spiders, snakes, the economy, being alone, relationships, snow (chionophobia), growing old, teenagers (ephebiphobia), public speaking, bees, bald people (peladophobia), puppets, clowns, relatives, and even the color yellow. Do you want to know one of my fears? I fear that we have lost theophobia, the fear of God.

When is the last time you heard anyone talk about the fear of God? The concept of the fear of God is quite common in the Bible. The word fear occurs 301 times in the NASB. Thirty-four of those occurrences are in relation to fear of God.

Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; Job 28:28

The fear of the LORD prolongs life… Proverbs 10:27

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. Acts 9:31

Like Lucy Van Pelt, fear of God is often misunderstood. O. S. Hawkins reminds us that fear of God is not fear that God will smack us if we do something wrong. It is the fear that God will simply remove His presence from us. We sometimes misunderstand God’s promise that He will not leave us or forsake to mean that He will tolerate any behavior from us without consequences. We mistake God’s silence for His approval.

9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness 2 Peter 3:9-11 (ESV)

In days of relative uncertainty and fear of just about everything, we need to return to a healthy fear of God. We do not need to fear anything or anyone, but the One who created us. The cure for anxiety and fear in general is the fear of the Lord.

28“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31“So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:28-31 (NASB)

Does anyone else have the sudden urge to go kick a football?