Who or What Do You Fear?

From the Back Porch

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

There is so much fear controlling our thoughts, actions, and relationships. And perhaps the greatest nexus of that fear is the corona virus. People run from one pundit to another, from one politician to another, and from one fact-checker to another hoping to find something that will put their minds at ease. Then, when people arrive at a perceived solution, they respond in fear to those who have arrived at a different solution. For example, consider the vaxxers and the anti-vaxxers. One group is fearful that the other group will help sustain the pandemic causing more people to die while one group is fearful that the other group will kill them with masks full of germs or the vaccines themselves. However, it doesn’t ultimately matter what the talking points of each group may be, because the ultimate issue is death.

The central focus of the COVID-19 story has been death. Death rates and daily death counts have been on every news station and the totals of cases and hospitalizations are given as precursors to death. Haven’t you heard the reports that death statistics lag behind case and hospitalization statistics? The only reason for making such a statement is to say, “Death is coming and coming soon.” Well, here’s some news – if you don’t die from COVID, you’re going to die from something else. Ain’t none of us getting out of this thing alive.

Taking precautions against the things that can sicken us or even kill us are good – no one wants to get sick, much less get sick and then die. No argument there. Even God instituted many laws for the Israelites that pertained only to their health and physical well being. We should be mindful to care for the bodies God has given us so that we can serve Him and honor Him more completely. My thoughts here are not about health practices, but perspective.

So whether you choose to vax or not vax, mask or not mask, distance yourself or crowd up at a sporting event, you need to consider this. How you die is not nearly as important as what happens after you die. God has established hell as a place for Satan and his followers. (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4) It’s real. Jesus talked about hell (yes, He believed in hell) in Matthew 10:28. Often we like to refer to “fear” in the Bible as reverence or respect, but here Jesus is saying, “Be afraid – be very afraid.” He goes on to talk about God’s love and care, but the point is made. We need to be afraid of what is truly fearful and trust God for our very lives both now and when we die. God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell. And for those who would say that He hasn’t done anything yet, I would encourage you to consider 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT) Failure to trust Him should fill us with a sense of impending doom because that is what our future holds without Christ.

I respect your decisions concerning how you will respond to the corona virus. Furthermore, I understand your desire to convince those you love of what you have found to be the best response. But while we’re at it, we should wake up to the real life or death question that we all face. There is a point in time when each of us will die. (Hebrews 9:27) We should take this opportunity to look honestly at that which we fear – death – in order to find peace. And peace can only be found in Jesus. “While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4 NLT) “ For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’” (2 Corinthians 15:53-55 NLT) As excited as we were when the hope of a vaccine was declared on the news, how much more should we be excited when the scripture declares that Jesus offers the hope of eternal life? Jesus Himself said, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 HCS)

Is death a reality? Yes. Can we experience victory over death? Yes – in Jesus.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26 NAS)

Scientists? Politicians? Health Experts? Who Do We Turn to for Truth?

 

Psalm 118

It seems that with all the noise going on it’s hard to tell who to believe, who to trust, and what to do with what little knowledge they seem to bring. One health expert gives their opinion based on their experience in their research, but another health expert says just the opposite. One politician tell us what he believes and what his constituents believe is the best course of action and another politician says just the opposite. One scientist gives a report on what is happening and another scientist says just the opposite. One mental health expert explains why people act the way they do and another mental health expert says just the opposite. One sociologist says why people act the way they do and another sociologist says just the opposite.

So who do we believe?  Why, the one(s) we agree with the most, of course.  No need to balance and reconcile opposing views of others.  Quite frankly, we don’t need to even entertain their thoughts.  Ridicule them?  Yes, but we need not carefully consider them or what they say.  After all, their ideas don’t align with what we want to hear.

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3 NLT)   When Paul gave this admonition to Timothy he was warning him about false doctrine coming into the church.  My concern is that false information is guiding Christians because many believers choose to act relying solely on the knowledge provided by humans (even experts and/or authorities) while ignoring the wisdom of God.  There is nothing wrong with seeking advice.  Proverbs 15:22 reminds us that “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  However, there is something wrong – disastrously wrong – with seeking advice and not seeking God.  Psalm 118:8-9 says it this way:

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

May we, as believers, always take refuge in the Lord; always trust His wisdom: always rely on Him for our safety, understanding, and peace.  “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” –  Isaiah 26:3