3 Things Fear Hides In The Church
Nature is incredible. Take the pistol shrimp, for example. It’s about three inches long and looks much like any other shrimp. But it has a hidden power. Claws. When the pistol shrimp closes its claws, it produces a loud pop. A really loud pop. This sonic boom is so powerful that it can actually shatter the glass wall of an aquarium. It often clears 200 decibels! As a reference point, that’s even louder than a gunshot. And that’s just one of them. Imagine what happens when there are millions of them. It sounds like an all out war.
Speaking of war, during World War II, the US Navy used these pistol shrimp to hide their submarines in Japanese harbors from the Axis Powers. The Axis naval fleets employed sonar and hydrophones to locate enemy submarines. But their technology was no match for the pistol shrimp. The US Navy hid their submarines among beds of pistol shrimp. Their incessant popping produced a curtain of white noise that rendered the sonar and hydrophones useless. This was a major turning point in the war. You might even say that the pistol shrimp won the war by sea for the Allied Powers.
Would you believe me if I said that pistol shrimp can actually teach us something about fear?
They really can. See, there is a good kind of fear - the kind that protects us and keeps us from wandering into unnecessarily dangerous situations. But there’s also a bad kind of fear - the kind that debilitates us and keeps us from taking any sort of risk.
Here’s what pistol shrimp teach us about fear. Fear, like the pistol shrimp, has a way of producing white noise. It distracts us from what is right in front of us. It hides what is in plain sight.
This is nowhere more evident than among God’s people. Let me give you three things fear hides in the church.
Here are 3 things fear hides in the church:
John, one of Jesus’ followers, once wrote, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18) Sadly, we often experience the opposite. Fear drives out love.
We are called to love our community - even if we fear doing it wrong. We are called to be generous - even if we fear breaking our budget. We are called to share Jesus - even if we fear we will be rejected.
So, here’s the question. What does love require of me and how is fear holding me back?
Jesus included people. Honestly, His inclusion was revolutionary. It grinded against the status quo of His day. To be clear, He wasn’t dismissive of sin, but He made room for people - the righteous and the unrighteous, the religious leaders and the prostitutes, the government officials and the drunks, the wealthy and the poor, the adults and the children, the men and the women. He included everyone.
Unfortunately, we tend to be far more exclusive. We may fear that people misinterpret our inclusiveness as “condoning” sin, so we exclude such “sinners” instead. The reality is that Jesus never condoned sin. But He did love sinners - and so should we.
Here’s the thing. We were once outsiders. We were once the ones the “sinners” that someone loved. We were once far from God, but someone invited us in.
Our love might be misinterpreted. So what? Jesus was often misinterpreted. Let’s take His cue and love with abandon. Accepting is not the same as affirming - it wasn’t for Jesus and it doesn’t need to be for us.
Change is hard. Especially when it’s not our idea. We know what to expect with the status quo. We know what we’ll get, because it’s what we’ve always gotten. But change? Well, that could wreck everything! It could all go wrong!
Change is uncomfortable. As Joe De Sena, the creator of the Spartan races, once put it, “The number one motivator in people is always avoiding discomfort.” Change is uncomfortable. So, we tend to avoid it. But, here’s the problem. Change is necessary for progress. John Maxwell says, “Everything you want, but you don’t have, is outside your comfort zone.”
Growth requires change. It’s true for the individual and it’s true for the church. But change means risk and every risk comes with fear.
Remember, there is good fear - designed to protect you. Listen to that fear.
But there is also bad fear - designed to inhibit you and restrain you. Push through that fear.
Fear - the right kind - can be a great asset.
Fear - the wrong kind - can hide our call to love, to include, and to change - much like the pistol shrimp hid the US Naval submarines. The white noise drowned out a deadly enemy. Don’t let fear drown out the next course of action.