October comes to a close and an exciting new November Tabletalk is upon us. In this post, I will conclude October's issue on the Seven Deadly Fears by commenting on the four articles at the end.
First is "How then Should We Love?" by Kelly Kapic
"Has it ever struck you how strange it sounds to be commanded to love?" In Sunday School this week, and at this point, it is a legitimate prayer request, one lady prayed for the Atlanta Falcons to win. She also joked that she did not pray nice things for the Denver Broncos. Joking aside, the Falcons really do need to win something. And as a Christian, this fine woman is commanded to love both the Falcons and the Broncos. She has no option. She may cringe, but she must love them. To do that, she must pray for them, and God will change her heart. And it is amazing how gradually he moves, too.
"Scripture does not merely invited us to love God and neighbor; we are commanded to do so." Why? "We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19)." Ever since before Deuteronomy, the two greatest commands have been to love God and to love our neighbors. "This is the his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another. (3:23)." This is not a mere commitment. This should involve emotions too. The same way I'm glad that Tim is committed to me and that he feels an intense love for me. Love is more than a feeling, but feelings are important too.
So, the Deadly Fears? What is scarier than love? What is scarier than making yourself vulnerable and open to someone with no guarantee that the openness will be returned, or that you won't be rejected? But the best thing about love, is it erases fear. "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (4:18-19)." How can love be perfect? Only if it comes from God. When we walk around filled with God's love, we will be less afraid of our friends and of the world as we walk around with the stability of God's promises.
"Not Hearers Only" by Harry Reeder
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." That is what James says in his first chapter, verses 22-24. This is nothing more frightening for pastors and true believers than seeing God's flock deceived by people who have no love for the Church, and therefore have no love for Christ. If they did, the people would never criticize God's people and suggest that they need anything other than Christ.
But the first cure is the perfect love that God pours on his people. The next is this: hear the Word, but do not stop at hearing. Do the word. "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15). If you have Christ's love, then you have the perfect love that casts out fear, and you can tell people the truth so that they will not remain deceived.
The interview with Paul Washer
Paul Washer is an honorable man who preaches the truth. Many of my generation like him. I cannot get into him, but I also have not heard more than that one sermon where he screams. Just the same, Washer induces holy fear in those who hear him speak. He's absolutely right. Contemporary "Christians" have become so comfortable with American culture that they have melted into deists who cannot face the fact that people will die and go to hell because they have not enforced the name of Christ in the lives of their children.
The result of this danger, is preaching, also a dangerous thing. It is very dangerous to expose people as frauds. They will take revenge. It is dangerous to speak against popes and general assembly moderators. Doing so can ruin friendships and bring about demotions, and people will hide you on facebook so that they can't hear you at all. Still, Christ commands us to love him more than anything else, and that means speaking out when people insult him and his martyrs as liars and lunatics because all people can get to heaven after all.
Preaching is dangerous in that way, and it is also dangerous because of what James says. Not all people should presume to be teachers because they will bring greater judgment on themselves. Either people risk sending people to hell by speaking all comfort and no justice for sin, or they completely spread lies, or they do not give enough truth. As a Bible teacher, I run this risk. I don't want to insult people, but woe is me if I do not deliver the true Gospel, which is pretty insulting. However, dangerous preaching doesn't grow overnight. It starts with Christ pouring his love into someone, erasing their fear, causing them to take his Word seriously, which says that Christ is the only way to the Father, which causes his true follows to be enabled to preach the truth to the people.
"Dragons and Holiness" by Tony Reinke
I honestly did not care for this article. "The incredible imaginative power of the human mind connects us." It is true, when you read through John's Revelation, you do find a lot of imagery such as horses, cherubim, and even dragons, all which symbolize something that is very real. However, if we celebrate imagination as something that unites all humanity, then we reduce the reality of the Almighty God to mythology, and that is not cool.
But this leads to my last thing about fear. Only Christ's love can overwhelm a person that they are not afraid to look like loonies if they support 6 literal days of creation, a literal Genesis 1-11, and claim that dragons were real and got rediscovered as dinosaurs in 1840. People may want to get me hired at National Inquirer, but I believe God's word, and I believe nothing died before man sinned, and I believe that dinosaurs lived as dragons with humans up until the middle ages when daring knights slayed them. There were no endangered species programs then. I believe the Loch Ness monster is a fact, and any other dragon legends as they appear all over the world alongside other creatures such as horses. The best thing about God's imagination is that it makes things real. It made me, this world, my cats, and it gave us imaginations that can invent Hobbits and Elves. And God is always truthful. The images he feeds us are always truthful even if they are symbolic.