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A Matter Of Faith

Fear vs. Faith

by Joel Lawler

After God created Adam, he would walk with him in the cool of the evening in the garden. Adam and Eve were innocent, shameless and unafraid. Creator and creation were in harmony.

After Adam and Eve chose to break the one rule that God had given to Adam, an awful awareness drenched them. They realized they were naked. Community dissolved as their differences became apparent. Even starker than the physical differences of the male and female body was their sin verses God's holiness. They experienced shame and fear for the first time. They were exposed and felt a need to hide.

Adam and Eve heard the sound of God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from him.

God called to the man, "Where are you?"

Adam answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

The relationship between God and man had changed. Man was no longer innocent. God's holiness and man's sin are incompatible. Shame and fear created a barrier between the two.

Prior to the fall, there was no fear in being different. Eve did not look at Adam and compare herself and see the differences as a lacking in her own design. They were one. Adam learned that he was not complete until God had created Eve. There was joy in her completing him, not fear.

The serpent sowed a seed of fear by telling Adam and Eve, "God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

The emphasis of God being different from them introduced doubt. It also ushered in the thought that God was holding out on them. Fear gained a foothold and trust was eroded.

Before the fall, there was no concept of the self being less than. Adam was Eve's. Eve was Adam's. God was theirs and they were God's. They all belong to each other in perfect community. There was no mine vs. yours. There was not a reason to fear that which was different because there was no separation. We were designed to be in this intimate relationship with our creator. We were meant to be naked and unashamed with each other. The result of this relationship breaking apart leaves us detached from the source of life and from each other. We cover up and hide ourselves out of fear and distrust. We fear the only one who can heal. We hide from the only solution to our isolation and loneliness.

Fear and distrust birth disunity, discord and conflict. Fear and distrust are cancer to all relationships. They will steal, kill and destroy any connection we have to others. Fear and distrust will suffocate community.

God stepped into our world.

God sent the angel to a virgin named Mary.

The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was very scared at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus."

The angel told her to not be afraid.

Mary chose faith over fear. She chose to trust God.

It is through faith and trust, we can return again to a relationship with God our Father. We have to abandon fear in order to turn towards him. Just as Adam and Eve hid, so do we. We have to risk coming out of the bushes.

Throughout our human history there is a constant theme of hiding in fear verses faith. Far too often we are obsessed and overpowered by fear.

We fear what is out of our control. We live in denial believing that we can take the pen and write our own stories. Our fear of God leads us to make ourselves god of our own lives. We worship at the altars of money, power and prestige. Each of these altars has our own image on the thrown.

We trust money will bring happiness and security. We look to power or control of others to prove our ability to orchestrate our existence. We hang our significance on how we are perceived by others. At the base of these pursuits is fear.

God is our primary fear because God is totally beyond us. He is far above our ability to comprehend or understand. His ways are not our ways. He is out of our control. We cannot go to him without him coming to us first.

He became one of us in Jesus. He knows our humanity because he became human. He was tempted with fear and resisted choosing to trust the Father. He gave us a path by walking it first. The good news is that God has given us faith to transcend fear and he loves us.

He loved us so we can love him. There is no place for fear in love.

1 John 4:16-19 (NIV) God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.

Expelling fear and embracing trust through love we can restore the community we once had. It is what we were made for.


Joel Lawler