There is actually a spiritual point to this piece, so please bear with me in my buildup! 😉
In the UK, for the last few weeks, there has been a really nasty debate raging over whether or not Britain should stay in the European Union (EU). This is because today we have the ‘EU Referendum’; today is the day when voters in this country vote regarding whether or not they wish to remain in the EU.
There are people who wish to ‘Remain’ (called the ‘Remain’ campaign, funnily enough) and those who wish to ‘Leave’ (Yes, it’s called the ‘Leave’ campaign, also known as ‘Brexit’). Most of us have been fed up with the idiocy of both sides for quite a while:
And, in the midst of all the obfuscation, confusion, claims and counter-claims, we are going to have to make a choice.
I’m not going to give my opinion here, nor will I ever. But the reason I am writing this blog article is because in all the vicious campaign, with all its infighting, slander, personal attacks, lies, misinformation and what have you, the common thread in all the propaganda I have read from both sides of the fence is that of Fear. It’s as if the two sides know that facts will always be misquoted (my daughter and I have just had an entertaining few minutes today pointing out the contradictions in just one mailshot from one of the sides) and misrepresented (I bet they did so know) that actually what has happened is that all along, both sides have decided to play on people’s fears, as I said. Because facts are in question, they go for the emotions. And there are few emotions more powerful than that of fear. So the Brexit lobby say that if we remain in the EU, immigration will increase, thereby invoking the fear of losing jobs to the cheaper labour force consisting of immigrants. Alternatively, the Remain lobby might claim that the Brexit leadership want nothing more than to dismantle the NHS, thus playing on people’s health fears. And I make no comment about the veracity of either of these statements; I am simply using them as examples. No, Fear is a powerful weapon; let’s not underestimate it! Here’s an interesting quote someone posted on Facebook the other day:
“THE WORLD IS increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.”
― Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive
You see, the world’s systems are all based on Fear. Fear of loss; fear of being ‘left behind’ in technology; fear about ‘missing out’.
But you know, Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34)
Jesus was saying that worrying – fear – was something that we do not need to do. I know it’s difficult not to, because our circumstances appear to belie the fact – yes the Fact! that Father God is in control. We feel we need to take control, so we can sort out our problems ourselves; but if God is in control, we need not worry, and we can just hand it all over to Him. The former system is Unbelief, the latter is Faith. Paul puts it another way in Philippians 4:6-7,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus“
So, that’s fear, and that’s some of what the Scripture has to say on the subject.
But today, I want to encourage you not to be afraid. In fact, I have heard it said that the most common phrase uttered in the entire Bible is this: “Do not be afraid”. Do not be afraid. 1 John 4:18 says, “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“. You see? If we are aware of Father’s perfect love, we need not be afraid. Of anything! And I’m not referring to the outcome of the Referendum either; that was just my starting point for this piece which is intended to encourage those beset by fear.
It has been said that the opposite of Fear is Faith. And yes, that’s true to some extent. If we have faith in God, then we have assurance that He will provide in spite of our fears. But there’s something else: I’d say, based on the above, that the opposite of Faith is actually Unbelief. Unbelief, in terms of not believing that Father is actually in charge, and is more than capable of handling anything that worries us. And because Unbelief and Fear are on the same side of the equation (as in, opposite to Faith), then they actually work together to reinforce each other. Unbelief leads to Fear; Fear leads to Unbelief. (I’m beginning to sound like Yoda here!). And so Faith – faith in God, by Name, not just in some unseen ‘spiritual principle’, but in the loving, caring Father God that Jesus made known to us – having faith in Him is the key to the reduction of the citadel of our fears.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me.” (Jn 14:1 NLT)
That’s what Faith is, really, at least in terms of practical outworking – simple Trust. Trust in God; trust in Jesus. Trust that He keeps His promises; trust in “…Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (Eph 3:20 NKJV) Do you believe that God is more powerful than anything you feel afraid of? Do you trust Him? Yes!
So, whatever the outcome of the EU Referendum today, no matter what doom-and-gloom the two camps have been propagating – and no matter what fearful thing you are facing – please be encouraged!
You can rest assured that Father God has it all under control!
Do not be afraid!