My Dear friends…
Reverberating across the planet, there come to us reports containing nothing short of raw fabrication. Disguised and packaged so as to bypass alarm, the unsuspecting masses have received their distribution without resistance. Little or no protest is offered, as though reason and common sense have been silenced. Often repeated by those who have scarcely conducted thorough investigation on the matter, horrific distortions are pushed as the truth.
It is with deep sadness that I address one such report. The announcement has circulated the globe that we are to tremble in fear at our maker, as though he threatens us into obedience. Many believe the fallacious conclusion of apparently terrifying consequences driving us to our knees in sheer horror to weep and beg for mercy from the monarch of the galaxies, as if our life were in the hands of a common criminal. This very thought is used to pressure those who have not yet come to know the Lord into service, as though there were nothing attractive about that which he offers to us.
The term “strong-arm” filters onto the scene as analytical minds begin their initial examination of such reports. I am reminded of those on this world who rule their nations with a fist of iron, whisking their subjects off to clandestine encampments to face extermination and slavery. The question comes to mind, do we lower the sovereign ruler of the universe to the level of the earthly tyrannical potentate on a mad power trip? Is he who made the heavens and the earth one who demands slavish obedience through coercion?
Dear friends, what are the effects of fear on the human mind? Self-exalted power hungry rulers have in the past taken advantage of how fear affects us. They are well aware that raw fear is capable of an effective short cut around reason and common sense. With intellect and conscience then short-circuited and effectively silenced, the shrewd politician is then able to ascend to the heights of absolute power. Pride and self-exaltation skyrocketing beyond the stars, every so-called earthly potentate guilty of such crimes have exhibited character traits comparable to malignant narcissism and the devil himself. Their very actions echo the words, “I will ascend into the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high.” – Isaiah 14:14.
Their cruelty and malice know no bounds, and the horrors perpetrated by such men upon those whom they consider themselves above are beyond words. Indescribable evil surrounds every act by he who exalts himself to the heights of absolute power. Dumbstruck by the sheer horror of it all, the people stand idly by in silence. Reason, intellect, common sense, and conscience have all been switched off; short-circuited to the point of deactivation as though the moral centers of the brain have been totally bypassed.
My friends, we must consider this matter carefully. What are the origins of cruelty and malice? For the answer to that question, I need only direct your attention to the above passage of scripture. It is the enemy of all mankind, the adversary of souls who is the author of such concepts. Yet, we know that closely allied with them is tyranny, oppression, and persecution. All of these seem to go hand-in-hand with one another, and therefore proceed from the same author.
We must therefore inquire, does the monarch of the galaxies make use of tactics commonly attributed to the enemy of all righteousness? Is our Father in Heaven nothing more than a tyrant arbitrarily demanding obedience? Are those who have entered into the service of the Lord nothing more than slaves? Under the weight of such conclusions the temptation to distrust rears its hideous head. How can one trust a God who is nothing more than a tyrant? It is therefore evident that such teachings lead away from the sovereign ruler of the universe. Dare I therefore suggest that his hand is not in them?
We are told plainly by the testimony of scripture, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” – Matthew 22:37. Is it possible to love some one whom you are afraid of? Suppose a man burst into your home, and with firearm held to your head demanded that you love him. Any cooperative response at that point would not be motivated by any real love, but rather by an attempt to avoid being shot. In like manner, there can be no real love to God in a service based upon fear.
We are later told, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18. Piecing these two passages together, we may therefore conclude that when you truly love the Lord a literal fear is cast out of the equation. It is destroyed, or rather swallowed up in your love for God. Jesus later shed much further light on the matter when he said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” – John 14:15.
Close analysis of this statement reveals to us one simple fact. If you love Jesus, you will obey his commands. Yet this passage in of itself is a strong rebuke to a service based strictly upon fear of punishment, for it does not convey the message “Keep my commandments, or else.” Might I therefore suggest that those who serve the Lord do so because they actually desire to? Is it something of a leap to put forth the idea that a true Christian will be found obedient to the gospel for the simple fact that he or she actually wants to be?
The Psalmist describes this experience when he says, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” – Psalm 40:8. A true Christian delights in doing the will of the Father. To thus conduct oneself is not a grievous yoke of bondage, it is not heart-saddening or distressing. Though the Christian may suffer, intense pain does not characterize the service of God. To follow the Lord is not some horrific burden from which men are overjoyed to escape. In all reality a true Christian will find pleasure in obedience to God’s will.
It is perhaps a positive fact than that the service of God is rather attractive in of itself, not to mention that which our Heavenly Father offers to us all. Yet, we are to believe that others must be brought to the Lord through fear and coercion? This is a thought that should bring shame to every follower of the monarch of the galaxies, for our Lord is a being of benevolence and the usage of fear and coercion to pressure others into service is a tactic inconsistent with his character. Taking the matter a step further, it is not an erroneous statement to make the claim that cults often use such tactics to maintain dominance over their membership, and produce followers.
Jesus once said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” – John 12:32. It is the cross of Calvary which attracts all to the monarch of the galaxies, not fear of punishment. The sacrifice made for all men holds a magnetic power over the mind, attracting he who discerns and receives the call of the Lord. As the realization of his or her cost settles over he who would seek to follow the overlord of the universe, the heart fills with gratitude and love; and with these very motives in mind he cheerfully chooses to forsake all and follow the ruler of all creation.
Yet, even more attractive than this is that which leads us to forsake that which is wrong. You might recall the oft repeated assertion that fear of punishment will lead us to weep and beg for mercy from the monarch of the galaxies? It is an indisputable fact that the testimony of scripture strikes down such fictitious claims, delivering nothing less than the complete destruction of the fallacy. We are told, “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” – Romans 2:4.
Let us therefore analyze this thought, what is repentance? Repentance is best defined as a sorrow for that which is wrong, followed by a forsaking of evil. The above passage conveys to us the truth that it is the goodness of God which leads us to do this. Yet, you might often hear the cry “be afraid! Repent, or you will burn!” Throughout the scriptures we have many examples of individuals who have ‘repented’ for similar reasons. In the book of Exodus, the Pharaoh of Egypt ‘repented’ but returned to his rebellion as soon as the plagues were stayed. The plagues of Egypt did not produce a change of heart. How is it that fear of punishment would change anyone?
Dear friends, we now hold clear evidence that our father in heaven is not a tyrant who controls his subjects through coercion. Yet this thought is brought down to an utter impossibility by the very sacrifice provided in our behalf, and the full implications of that which was done for us by our Lord and savior. Such accusations crumble into the dust by a death blow struck from the following words, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in the fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8
There are few who, once they ascend to the heights of absolute power, would then humble themselves and step down; obeying laws which they themselves crafted. Yet, our Lord took the form of a servant irregardless of the fact that he was the creator of the universe, and began rendering obedience to his own laws. These facts are the final nail in the coffin for the idea that God is some how a tyrant. With this in mind, fear-mongering is inconsistent with the character of our redeemer and creator who once said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” – Luke 23:34.
It is said of our Lord, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” – 1 John 4:16 and, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5. Two characteristics of our God’s character are light and love. With this in mind, how is it that he would sanction fear-mongering to draw others to his cause? My dear friends, ultimately love is the great motive. This is what will cause us to change, and will purify our souls. Anything less is a facade, for you cannot truly love a God whom you are afraid of and it is impossible to truly love your neighbor if you are only afraid of the consequences of not doing so.
Friends, we must give our lives over to the overlord of the universe for the simple fact that he is our best friend, not because we fear punishment. There is nothing greater than the relationship which we may have with our creator and redeemer, which in of itself is an attraction stronger than any magnet. I implore you all to depart from that which is wrong, forsake all that you have, and come and follow our Lord; for this will be the best thing that ever happened to you.