That’s the question Francis Chan asks us in Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. And he gives us this quote from the early Christian writer Tertullian.
The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess Him. He wants those who belong to Him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless.
What?!?! “A Christian is fearless.” Not, a Christian should be fearless or can be fearless or wants to be fearless but IS fearless. Uh…. total fail. If you read any of my posts, you’ll know that “fear” is quite prevelant in them.
Holy Spirit (Photo credit: Barking Tigs)
I wrote a TINY BIT about my fears about the Holy Spirit here. But as I said in this other post, I feel like Chan has been reading my private journal…or my mind. Or perhaps this fear is more universal.
We are told to Fear God. But obviously NOT this type of fear I’m talking about. I love this quote I found on Wikipedia of all places: In an April 2006 article published in Inside the Vatican magazine, contributing editor John Mallon writes that the “fear” in “fear of the Lord” is often misinterpreted as “servile fear” (the fear of getting in trouble) when it should be understood as “filial fear” (the fear of offending someone whom one loves).
And C.S. Lewis references the term in many of his writings, but specifically describes it in his book The Problem of Pain and states that fear of the numinous is not a fear that one feels for a tiger, or even a ghost. Rather, the fear of the numinous, as C. S. Lewis describes it, is one filled with awe, in which you “feel wonder and a certain shrinking” or “a sense of inadequacy to cope with such a visitant of or prostration before it.” It is a fear that comes forth out of love for the Lord.
And of course, one of my favorite quotes in from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (reminds me I need to read the series AGAIN) “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Perhaps many of you have some of these same WRONG fears about the Holy Spirit as I have felt. Perhaps we all have things in common here. With Francis Chan. Let’s talk. There will be several parts to this topic because I am going to address each fear as a separate post. There’s too much to say for just one! For me, these fears NEED to be fully addressed and prayed about before I can really move on. MAYBE FOR YOU, TOO. I don’t know. But for some reason, I am really feeling the need to write about these fears. Strongly. Very Strongly. As Chan said,
So although some of these fears about the Holy Trinity may be natural and universal, they are not right. We are called to pattern our lives after the Way described in the Bible. …,.It means refusing to let your fears of what others think, your fears of rejection, etc. keep you from pursuing the truth about the Holy Spirit and whatever else God is teaching you and calling you to do.
I had actually had already journaled about almost ALL of the fears that are in the Forgotten God book before I started reading it – when I started reading fellow blogger Chris Jordan’s book Supernatural! But to be honest, these same fears have reared their ugly heads many times in my life and in my journal…..Told you Chan was reading my journal…
Fear of Rejection Sounds official, but what it really means is very simple. Caring too much about what others think of you. Chan admits to this fear. And I totally identify with it. The problem with worrying about what others think of you is that it can overrule everything. We will then disobey and ignore what we know God is telling us to do. Grieve the Holy Spirit. Quench the Holy Spirit.
And I’m saddened to know that I have done so. There is no maybe here. I know that I have. And that I will continue to do so. And that breaks my heart. I cannot undo. I just ask to be forgiven. I ask for help to be what He wants me to be.
I certainly know many devoted believers who exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit, who obviously are led by the Spirit. And for me, I know that I have had many experiences and leadings that are completely from the Spirit. But as I said in an earlier post about the Holy Spirit, I hadn’t really given credit where credit was due, so to speak. I attributed them to God…which of course, the Spirit is, BUT for some reason, my eyes were blinded to the fact that the Spirit is also a separate person of the Trinity. I’ve treated Him more like a power – and a power that was scary to embrace - rather than a person.
I have never been around anyone who spoke in tongues (but I’ve now found out that several friends do…). I have never attended a charismatic service. I say these things because that is what I connected to the Holy Spirit. I’d been taught basically – even if not in actual words – that “those people” were weird. Uncontrolled, highly emotional, seeking experiences rather than the truth of God. Any experience that was different was suspect. God talking to us in dreams or visions? Weird. Dancing in the aisles? Weird. We had a woman who attended our church a few years ago who did dance during our worship songs. She was sweet & kind & sincere but seeing her dance made people uncomfortable. Weird. Even raising hands used to be out of the ordinary at our church. A little weird. Why? Was this all a fear of being like “those people?” Of being different? Of not fitting into the world I hang out in? I think so.
And sadly, in the past that is why I’ve discounted/ignored/FEARED some gifts that the Spirit has given me. Some things He has told me. Some things I’ve experienced. Some blessings that I’ve refused. Some callings that I’ve neglected. Some of these are what I call God Coincidences or GC’s. I didn’t know how to handle them. How to process them. I FELT WEIRD! I doubted myself. My ability to hear, to understand. Like I was crazy or imagining them or over-spiritualizing things or at the very least, afraid that other people would think those things about me.
But I’m discovering that there are others that I know who have had “out of the ordinary” experiences. Who are “different.” I put those in quotation marks just to emphasize that these things should NOT be weirdly different. These are the things that should mark us as belonging to God. To being followers of Christ. To being led by the Holy Spirit. Why do most of us keep these things secret? Why don’t we proclaim the awesomeness of what God is doing? Are they private? Maybe some things are. I know someone who has his own prayer language which I respect as private. But I wonder why we don’t share more often….are we afraid of being weird in the eyes of the world?
Anything we do that is different from the norm is uncomfortable. We don’t fit in. But then, we’re not supposed to, are we?
I pray that the fear of what others think of me does NOT take on more importance than what the Creator of the Universe, my Lord, my King, my Savior, my Friend, my Counselor thinks of me. Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Of course, I realize that anything supernatural or “out of the ordinary” should be tested against Scripture. “Where is it written?”
Rather than guarding your perspective, consider taking a fresh look at familiar passages to make sure you haven’t missing something…Don’t let your views be determined by a particular denomination or by what you’ve always been told. Within the context of relationship with other believers, seek out what God has said about His Spirit. Open up your mind and your life to the leading of the Spirit, regardless of what others may think or assume about you. Frances Chan
My perpetual Scripture calendar exhorted me this morning with this verse: “Be filled with the Spirit.” Just another GC.