The point of terrorism is to instill fear; the use of heinous crimes to insight terror. That is why it is called “terrorism”. This fear and intimidation is utilized to gain political ends, either to influence or to overpower. I have seen many of my homosexual and straight friends respond exactly as the terrorists desire in the last few days, citing attacks from all types of murderers to claim that we are not safe in malls, movie theaters, planes, churches, and now bars and they are afraid. I have also seen many of my homosexual and straight friends muster up their pride and confidence to stand “firm” in the face of terrorism and not let a threat deter them from their normal life or activities.
Terrorism is not a new wartime tactic, but we did have a substantial relief its prevalence in the west after the end of the Cold War. Gen X, by in large, did not grow up with the fear of being attacked in the same way the Baby Boomers did and now the Millennials are.
Are you afraid?
Are radicals and wicked people influencing how you live your life? Perhaps you are afraid to fly because someone might hijack or blow up your plane. Perhaps you are afraid to travel because you never know who or what awaits you at your destination. Perhaps you are afraid to go out by yourself because someone might kidnap or harass you. The reality is that we live in a wicked world, and there are many who would seek the harm of others for a myriad of reasons: political, religious, self-pleasure, and many many more. We all live in this world and thus take calculated risks based on these facts every. single. day. Some let the actual fear alter their decisions while others stand up in courage against the fear while still others look at the statistics and realize the chances of becoming one of the victims is so marginal that it truly should not affect our daily decision making.
God has an interesting vantage point on fear. It is poignant and it is life-altering. Through Jesus He teaches us,
– Matt 10.28
Jesus fundamentally teaches us that there is something much worse than physical death, and that is eternal damnation. And the only being worth truly fearing is God: the one who dictates who goes to Heaven and Hell.
Now, we see regular examples of people in the Bible being fearful of or not wanting to die. Jesus Himself did not want to die. Death is not a pleasant experience and most of us are not anticipating it – unless we are at the end of a very long and difficult battle with illness or peril. But far greater is the weight of eternity and the potential future of condemnation, judgment and wrath without end.
Without end. Imagine the worst possible pain, sorrow and misery going on forever. When I was a child I used to cry at the thought of eternity – the fact that life would go on forever. This is a glorious and beautiful reality if we are saved and will enter into eternity with God, but if we enter into eternity at enmity with God, we will spend that time in the lake of fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Where mourning never ends and in the presence of the Devil and all things wicked. It will not be a giant party where our friends are present, God will be actively destroying our souls and flesh for eternity.
Therefore, the only thing and the only being worth truly fearing is Him.
When we know God, and our future is secure in His promise of salvation, and we consider life here and also life in eternity with Him, there is truly nothing to fear. Why? Because the worst that can happen to us is we can be killed and ushered into His presence. If a terrorist blows up our plane, if we are shot at a movie theater or at a church, if we are murdered and our earthly goods stolen, we have lost nothing.
Thus we must ask ourselves, in what are we placing our hope and trust? Are we focused on the here and now, making our lives as comfortable as they can be and living with a fear of death? Or do we have a relationship with God and know that no matter what happens here on the Earth, we will spend eternity with Him without suffering or sorrow?
It is normal and natural to fear death. It is also a sin to live in fear. And the best way to combat that fear is to address it directly, praying for faith and claiming the truth and promise that we have nothing to lose and when we do die we will spend eternity with God. This, of course, does not mean that we live foolishly and make unwise decisions, but it does mean that we do not let the fear of mankind deter us from God’s calling or living our lives to the fullest.
Do not fear man. Only fear God, and His power. But also love Him for the provision that He has made and the promise that we do not have to spend eternity in Hell.