I found a list of phobias online with more than 500 documented entries—from “Ablutophobia: the fear of washing or bathing” to “Xyrophobia: the fear of razors.” The scientific accuracy of this list could certainly be questioned, but it would be safe to draw the conclusion that fear comes in many flavors. The Mayo Clinic website lists over a thousand diseases and medical conditions which can be treated at the facility. The Federal Register (in 2012) contained over 78,000 pages of federal rules governing life here in the United States. Most of the hundreds of online, print, television, and radio news sources focus on the bad news around the world, because bad news sells.
Even the Weather Channel is more interested in a storm than a sunny day.
I have more reason to worry than I thought I had!
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 KJV)
One lone Voice speaking through His Word and His servants, against a tsunami of voices shouting, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”
For the past few weeks I've been turning fear over and over so we can see it from every possible angle—to expose it for what it is. Fear is like a stop sign at a border crossing manned by armed guards. Fear contains us in our present condition and shuts us out of the life God has prepared for us. And fear will continue to do so as long as we allow it.
Yes, fear is something we allow.
I know that's tough to hear, but fear is an optional reaction to the stresses of life. Otherwise, God wouldn't have said, “Fear not.” God knows we have lots of reasons in the natural world to be afraid, but if He tells us to “Fear not,” then it is possible to live free from fear.
Jesus asks us:
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:25–26 NIV)
Right after Jesus reminds us that it is the Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom, He makes another statement which seems to be totally to the contrary, sounding as if He wants to take something from us in return.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:33–34 NIV)
Jesus does want to take something from us in return, but that something we are so desperate to hang on to is not as valuable as we think it is.
Which would you rather have, the kingdom or all of your possessions? Remember the old saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? Most of us would choose the bird we have in our hand rather than the two birds in the bush, but only because we do not understand the kingdom.
Tuesday I asked the question: “Why isn't it possible to become so addicted to living by the power of the Holy Spirit that we seek out opportunities to serve God just so we can watch His strength work in our weakness?” In our weakness, we try to hang on to the bird we have. But that bird we have in our hand cannot produce any offspring (as in profit or fruit).
It cannot multiply by the power of the Holy Spirit. But the two birds can produce generations of fruit.
When Jesus tells us to sell our possessions and give to the poor, He is telling us to release the bird we have in our hand and go after the two in the bush. For some of us, this is a literal transfer of our wealth to the poor, as in the story of the rich young ruler (see Mark 10:17–27).
But for most of us, He is talking about a transfer of the control of all our earthly possessions to Him.
As long as we are trying to control what we have in our hand, we are not free to pursue the kingdom.
If this doesn't make sense to us, it didn't make sense to Jesus' disciples either. But that's because we are thinking, just like they were thinking, by worldly principles and not by kingdom principles.
We read the story of the rich young ruler and think, “Poor guy. He had to choose between his riches and Jesus.” Or we might go even further and think, “Who in their right mind would want to be saved if they had to give up everything they owned to follow Jesus?”
As long as we hold on tightly to our current position, we will not be free to receive the multiplication that goes along with the kingdom. As long as we are unwilling to relinquish the control of our lives into His care, we will live in a constant state of the fear that something beyond our control will control us.
This worldly perspective is so wrong and so very different from the way the kingdom of God operates.
Even if God asks you to give up everything for Him, you will have truly lost nothing.
But you will have gained access to far more than you ever had before. Read on past the confusion of the disciples in this story of the rich young ruler, and hear what Jesus said:
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:29–31 NIV)
We have a choice. We can hold on to whatever we can get out of this world, and live with the constant fear of loosing it. Or we can go after kingdom treasure knowing that no one or nothing can take from us what God gives to us.
Mike Melin is a life-long businessman, having owned and operated a furniture factory for many years. Currently, Mike and his wife Sherrel operate a small insurance agency.
Mike's true passion is encouraging other people to take their own next step of faith in their relationship with God. He and his wife are the founders of Melin Ministries, Inc., a teaching ministry dedicated to helping people apply the Word of God in a very practical way to their daily lives. The ministry website is http://givemethatmountain.org