I was watching the previews for the newly reformed show “Fear Factor” the other night and they have truly amped up their fear quotient for the contestants. In case you don’t know, Fear Factor started as a test for those who were willing to challenge themselves to see how much they could conquer their fear. The ones who were able to handle things like snakes in a box with them, scorpions crawling on their face, eating pigs livers raw, and many other things, would usually make it to the final round and then on to victory. Their prize….money!!
The show would take the mild mannered and the aggressive and pit them against all kinds of terrible fear producing things to get them to crack and then…..go home disgusted and defeated. Some of the things I would see would make me say, “I could do that.” Then they would take it into a realm I couldn’t begin to handle and I would say, “no way.” Fear is an amazing thing that can bring forth many different emotions we never counted on which can make us go to a new level of greatness or crawl into a hole waiting for the hammer to fall.
In Matthew 10 Jesus was sending out the disciples to go and spread the word of hope and forgiveness through Christ. In verse 1 Jesus gave them power and authority to cast out unclean spirits, heal every kind of disease, and every kind of sickness, and touch lives through the power of God. The scripture lists every disciple’s name, so these were not just some flunkies passing by. They had purpose. It’s interesting that Jesus sent them out first to the household of Israel (His people) and told them to stay away from the Gentile people. In other words, He was sending them out to those who knew of the Messiah and shared the message that “He has come” with all they met. We always speak of the Great Commission given in Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus told His disciples to go to all the world and share the hope of salvation. This is actually the “first” Great Commission and it was given to His disciples to share with those of the “household of faith.” Yes, Jesus wanted to keep it from the Gentiles, and gentiles represent people like me of English and French background. Wow, talk about feeling excluded…..NOT! As usual, Jesus had a great purpose in what He was doing and His sending out the disciples to the Jews had a definite reason. I don’t know the particulars of His reason, but it appeared that they were the ones who would readily receive the message and respond the quickest, because they knew of the prophecy, but they didn’t. Jesus knew this would be the case and warned His disciples about the trouble they would be getting into with those who would not receive the message of the Messiah. He used terms like “sheep among wolves”, “rejection and ridicule” through trumped up charges in court, “scourging” in the synagogues, The SYNAGOGUES! That would be church to you and me. He also told them that family members would turn against them for His sake and that they would be hated by all for the sake of His name. He mentioned that all of this would be a testimony to the Jews AND the Gentiles. So, it appears that there would be a testimony to the Gentiles, but not a direct voice to the Gentiles. Just a WITNESS to them. Strange….
In His final charge to them He says, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus went on in verse 28 to tell them that they didn’t need to fear the one who could kill the body, but fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body. Now that’s what I call a “Fear Factor.” At that point in the show, the New Testament Fear Factor, the disciples would either back away in fear or run the race He called them to run. If they chose to follow this commission their fears of man and the world would fade away, and their fear of God would give them a new found strength in following God. It wouldn’t involve eating worms, or riding a rhinoceros, or even jumping off a cliff to the water below. This fear woud generate “service” and not only service, but life altering service. Service that compels us from our inner core to give all we have to the One who called us. Now that is a great “Fear Factor” result!!
So why doesn’t that happen for those who have “new life” in Christ? Why aren’t Christians everywhere jumping at the chance to give their all to Jesus in service and love? I don’t really totally know the whole answer, but I think we are given a hint through Jesus instructions to the disciples to take the message to those who already know of the message. In their time it was the Jews. In our time, it is Christians sitting in the pews of a church. If there is ever going to be a time of revival and renewal, and a time of all out commitment by evangelicals, it will live and die with those who already know the truth. In other words, US. Keep this in mind. The ones who are rejecting the true message of faith right now are…..CHRISTIANS! God is always wanting to do a new thing. To shake up our world and thus shake up the world of everyone we meet. And if we reallllllly fear God as the disciples did, that shaking will begin in us. No more excuses about being overworked, tired of the daily routine, need to take care of the kids, need a vacation, family won’t cooperate, church won’t do right, got my feelings hurt, etc. will keep us from doing what the source of our faith, God, asks us to do. We will not only begin to do these things, but we will keep on doing these things. That is our fear factor. That is our stimulus. That is our purpose. That is where we find our value. That is what being “saved” is all about. And get this…..That is the only place you will truly find peace. It will be found in serving our Master, Jesus Christ.
So, do you fear the world? Do you fear your friend’s and family’s impression of your love for God? Have you let “things” keep you from following the commitment God has burned in your heart? Here’s what you need to do REPENT! Yep. REPENT! It’s not the most pleasant thing you can do at the time, but the resulting life is awesome!!! If you go to a church (aka synagogue) and share the message of hope and challenge people to serve Christ with all they are and they reject you…..”shake the dust off your feet and don’t let them get you down.” If your fervency for serving God alienates your family, pray for them and keep on going. If your commitment confuses those you work with, pray for them and keep on living it. If you are brought before the “court of cool” set up by those who are Sunday Christians, plead guilty to loving God too much. He will fight your battles for you and you will see Him in Glory.
All of this may seem very radical for you to read, but I can assure you through God’s Word it is the truth. Just read it for yourself and you will see what God wants you to do. Just don’t fear the results from the word. Fear the one who calls you and then repent and live for Him. When you “factor” in that kind of “fear”, the world around you will start to see change like never before and then God will be truly glorified, not just a song we sing in church.
William Gurnall said, “We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.” Sounds like a sound word of truth to me. How about you? Who do you fear?
The Pilgrimage continues…..