Posted: 1/5/18 at 9:40am. Column by Ed Jordan.
It has been brutally cold lately, and the three stray cats in our neighborhood are decked out in their winter coats. They show up for a daily feeding, but they are skittish while eating. If we come out the door too quickly, they are ten yards away before they pause to see if we are a real threat to them.
We are rather amused by these stray cats, or community cats, as they are now called. They want food and will get your attention to let you know they are waiting. They pose no danger to us, but they don’t let us get too close. They are full of fear. Any quick movement or unexpected sound makes them run away.
Their lives would be so different if they would trust us, let us get close to them, and take better care of them.
They want love but can’t bring themselves to overcome fear and to trust long enough to get any affection.
I realize that it is a wild world in the woods, full of lots of potential enemies that would love to have them for dinner. But we have no desire to eat them, or hurt them.
As my wife and I discussed this, we thought about how many people behave similarly in regard to God. Their lives would be so much more secure and peaceful if they would dare to approach Jesus and give him a chance to care for them, provide for them, and interact with them.
Many humans are like these stray cats. They are living in a hostile world and trying to make it alone.
They seem to sense the inherent danger but attempt to suppress the fear that grips their lives. Perhaps they have heard stories of people who love God and who love to be near God.
They have also heard rumors from people who are scared to death of God. All the while God reaches out to try and befriend them in order to make their lives better, provide for them, and give them eternal life so they need never fear death.
As a pastor I encounter all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. Viewpoints on God are legion. They run the gamut of seeing God as a room service that is only there to meet requests to seeing God as a violent hothead hurling lightning bolts at vulnerable humans.
Some view God as a figment of one’s imagination, while others have experienced concrete evidence of God’s love and intervention in their lives.
Jesus taught his followers to pray to God as “Our Father, who is in Heaven.” For people who have had nurturing, protective, and loving fathers, this perspective of God is heartwarming and comforting, and they therefore view God as approachable, loving, and helpful. Unfortunately, there are other people whose fathers, or those who fulfilled the role of father in their home, abused them as kids. For these people, viewing God as father is a fearful thing rather than a peaceful thing.
One thing we know for sure is that God does not want us living lives that are dominated and driven by fear. Fear enslaves people so that they are wary of trusting God or other people. In Hebrews 2:14-15 (The Message) we read: “Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.”
Jesus died in our place in order to render all fear—including the fear of death—powerless.
When we become Christians, we no longer need to be scaredy-cats. We are now free to approach God without fear and to confidently live in the world without being totally stressed out all the time.
I wish more people would encounter Jesus and trust him as their Lord and Savior, so that they would not be afraid to live in the presence of God. God has so much he wants us to experience and enjoy, if we would but entrust our lives to his love and care instead of feeling that security and salvation can only come from ourselves.
What will your 2018 be like? Will it be a year lived cowering in fear, afraid of how God would change your life if you surrender it to him? Or will you befriend Jesus, allow him to befriend you, and thereby be set free from enslavement to fear?