I will never forget the day I realized that both God and the devil wanted me to die but for different reasons. Satan wanted to destroy me through slander while God wanted to use these same lies to crucify my vulnerability to man’s control. The Lord knew a time would come when my books would bless many people. So, to inoculate me against the praise of man, He baptized me in the criticisms of man until I died to the opinions of man. Yes, I am accountable, but I now live only for God’s pleasure. Whether I please or offend man, that is the Lord’s business, not mine.
~Francis Frangipane, The Shelter of the Most High
For I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is the Lord. Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a slave of Christ.
~ paul, The Least of The Apostles, in 1 Corinthians 4 and Galatians 1
Oh beloved, it is true. There is within each of us the enormous capacity to mess up. We have, to man, done – said – thought – dwelt and pursued folly that brought down on us the righteous anger and indignation of others. We have errored so deeply (each of us) so as to miss the glory of G_d altogether. And in our error, we were doomed.
Fear, the proper response to G_d and His ability to judge sin, drove our lives. But the problem was the fear did not stop there. We were drowning in fear. It was choking us, and blinding our eyes. The fear we had, spilled over into everything we experienced. We imagined punishment and rejection from other people wherever we looked. And any actual punishment or rejection for our actions merely served as anecdotal evidence that our fear was worthwhile.
All along though, we had a problem that we did not know was already fixed. This same One we rightly feared, has done something astoundingly good. All of the punishment we also rightly expected for the error in which we lived, has been meted out and received by Another. Jesus has borne all the fallenness of us all. But not only did He bear it, He buried in the hell we will never have to visit on account of His great work on our behalf.
And in all of this, there is something in everyone, who changes their minds and believes this incredibly Good News, that has to be learned: Along with the expectation of punishment being cast into the depths of the sea, there also should go our fear. For even the One we rightly fear has told us now that we should fear Him not, because we have been made the brother of the Son, and the son of the Father.
So, in being made new creations and members of the very family of G_d, something changes about who we are. And that something is everything. We used to be in a place where the expectation of rejection and punishment rightly drove feelings of fear within us. But now, the perfect Love of a perfect G_d, who has so mightily saved us, has invaded our beings – and is beginning to make us like Himself. And in this ongoing perfecting of His Love within us, the fears we used to bear are cast away like old and unnecessary trash in our backpack.
Can we see it? We now only have one Person to fear and to please. And He is already pleased to know us, and to have paid our way into His eternal family. There is, therefore, nothing to fear. No thing and no person. Ever.
So, when we feel the old false friend of fear speaking within us (reminding us of mistakes, or even prompting us into them), and then showering us with the expectation of punishment – we need to speak back to that fear with some truth. And the truth is that fear (for the believer) is a liar. And anything that is a lie does not come from G_d, for lying is one thing He says He cannot do.
And somewhere along the path He has set before us, we come to a place where we set fear aside altogether. For we realize it is useless, and even dangerous, to our journey Home. There is so much to do, and so many people to Love that any distractions from Him and the work He has set before us is a waste even more enormous than our former failures.