Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On Using Fear As a Motivation to Keep Christians From Using Fear As a Motivation

Christ Himself spoke often about hell, warning us of the wrath to come for those who will not place their faith in Him, but there are many, from within and without the church, who seem to think that fear as a motivation is always a bad thing. In fact, I heard an evolutionist recently say that Christians where like terrorists who use fear to tell people they better believe in God or face eternal torment. I've also heard “Christians” say, God is love and would never say fearful things as motivation to get someone to live for him, and people who do such things are unloving people themselves.

But there is something self-contradictory at the bottom of these types of statements that must be addressed. What are they trying to get us to do by saying those types of things? Ultimately, they want us to fear being like a terrorist or being unloving? And if they respond by telling us that is not what they are doing, all we have to do is ask them, "is there no reason I should fear being those types of people?" If they say, no then all we have to do is ask them, "then what is your point.” And if they say yes, then it turns out that fear is also an aspect of the motivation they are using to get us to change our ways too.

The problem is this, though Christians should be fearful of being like a terrorist and being unloving, warning people of hell’s existence and showing them a way of escape is the opposite of unloving and is no closer to terrorism than warning people that that their house is on fire and they are going to get hurt if they don’t flee. Fear is an aspect of life, it can be used in sinful ways to get people to do things they shouldn't, but it can also be a means of grace used to spare our lives. Not all fear is unhealthy. God Himself, through His word, has told us to flee the wrath to come, but along with this fear that drives us from behind, we also have the love and kindness that draws us to Him.

As Christian’s we must not fear saying fearful things as long as we say them in love, and we must not let the world use a false sense of fear to keep us from speaking His truth. Even if people do not want to hear it and threaten us with fearful things if we continue, we should be willing to lose jobs, reputation, and even our lives if that is what it takes to save some. For we should not fear those who can kill the body but Him who can destroy our souls, and the one who can destroy the soul has told us how much he loved us by warning us of fearful things, such as the hell, and sending His Son to make atonement for those who place their faith in Him.


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