Fear is never a substitute for God


Happy Advent Calendars! 25 little doors to open, 25 little windows to look through, 25 little pockets to unpick! The countdown to Christmas is now officially underway.

In our house we used to buy the cheapest calendars going. Four children eager to get their pre-breakfast chocolate fix. Over the years we had the “can’t wait years” when one per day was not enough. And as they grew older we had the “catch-up years” when a week or more went by before they could be bothered to open the daily doors. And now they are all grown up Mum buys our two girls a Yankee Candle Advent Calendar (and they buy her one back). It is a fragrant and lovely “sharing” (new) tradition:

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Behind each of the little doors is hidden one of twenty and tea lights and four festive votive sample candles, in fragrances including Winter Glow, Bundled Up, Candy Cane Lane, Snowflake Cookie, Icicles and Spiced Orange.

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“Jesus said to the people, ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.’

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell-and great was its fall!’ “ Matthew 7:21, 24-27

I wonder if we get too caught up with the “We should all be thinking of the baby Jesus” track. I wonder if we become little Christian Scrooges: “Bah Humbug! It’s a special day because of Jesus! All this shopping and chocolate and stuff! Just what would Jesus do if he was here …”  Probably overturn all the special offers is what!

“Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Jesus was speaking to a bunch of peeps whose traditions were documented in law. Whose traditions had removed unconditional love – had removed humanity – in favour of knowing what God wants. Traditions which no longer needed God – but did need fear.  And time after time Jesus time banged the same drum:  “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them … ”

His imagery (leaving aside earthquakes) was that their normal living should be rooted in confidence – in unconditional love – in humanity – a confident humanity – a confident love without condition – a confidence that does not need documented fear for every circumstance in which they will fail if they do not do this or that in a certain way. Jesus was speaking to their traditions in their time and in their place.

And this morning I wonder …

If we “get it” – all this “Jesus stuff” – where is our confidence?  Where is our confident humanity – our confident love without condition – our confidence in who we are and what we are?  Why is it that we still need to document who is in and who is out – who God will love and who God will trash – who we should love and who we should trash?Because if we “get it” … then these verses are not aimed at us.

So when I see and hear teaching and preaching that says these verses are as relevant to us today as they were “back then” … Is it because we don’t get it – or is that we prefer not to get it.

Because “getting it” means hearing these words and acting on them”. And that would mean having to really change – having to really place humanity centre stage – really making love without condition the driving force – a real and life changing driving force.

“But the bible says, Paul … “

Except the bible has loads of anomalies in factual chronology.  Because written documents are never enough.  Because they are always written in a particular time and place by those who “know” (just like this post).

And wasn’t THAT what Jesus was trying to get across time after time … documented fear is NEVER a substitute for God.

But do we really prefer to really “get that” …?

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9 thoughts on “Fear is never a substitute for God

  1. Hey Paul! Fantastic post! As you know i’ve been studying the Puritans lately although i like their seriousness about Truth etc…your post seems to hit the spot where i think they go wrong and forget the human side of walking through this life.

    I really like the advent calendar too. Sarah & i have just opened our 1st door, i think i’m getting too old for chocolate in the morning though! lol 😀

    Great to be here as always!

    • WOW Steve! Thank you! so much. And as for advent calendars (Yankee Candles excluded) – I was told that this year “ours” (an elaborate and gorgeous looking one) is for the grandchildren only! if I wasn’t also a “middle of the day onwards chap” when it comes to chocolate – I might be slightly wounded! 🙂

      • Lol, yeah it sounds very cool too!

        I can’t have chocolate in the mornings either, it just doesn’t work for me. lol. Sarah treated me to a Hotel Chocolate calendar this year, and as i can’t find the numbered doors she helped me open it thiss morning. But all the anticipation of finding a chocolate was wasted on me, lesson learned….I’ll open day 2 after tea tomorrow evening! lol 😀

        Am i correct in thinking you are from the North of England? If so you’ll get my tea reference as evening meal. Here in Surrey i still get into trouble for not saying dinner! lol 😀

        • 🙂

          Yes to the north. My first time of hearing “High Tea” as a term conjured up pictures of eating one’s dinner in a lofty place – which seemed very “southern” to my northern simplicity. Not much has changed in the years since! 🙂

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