Adult Sized Fears
As a kid, there were certain things that simply scared the pants off me. I can still remember the fear—the sheer terror— that a Halloween mask caused. It wasn’t any mask, mind you. It was the kind of mask that made little kids get the feeling that it would come alive, jump up, and get them when they turned their back.
That mask – the one with the scraggly gray hair, crooked bucked teeth, pasty ashen skin with green warts – that mask haunted me every Halloween. When my parents got the Halloween box out of the closet, it would lay in the floor with the other decorations just waiting to pounce on me. I thought I could be brave enough to walk around it. But as I passed by and glanced at the dark eyeholes, I could feel the hair on my neck stand on end. My emotional brain would overpower my rational brain, and somehow that mask would come alive to get me!
As an adult, Halloween masks no longer scare me. In fact, I don’t know much of anything that gives me that same hair-tingling rush of adrenaline. But we grown-ups do face fears—grown-up fears—that cause us to worry what will come next.
What will come next? Halloween masks are many times replaced by fears of the economy, relationships, tensions at work, medical tests, and so on. The hair-raising feeling caused by Halloween’s spooky stuff now feels more like a lump in the stomach. What will happen tomorrow?
And what will happen the day after that? We all have problems throughout this life, but what happens when this life is over? Do we just vanish out of existence after our last breath, or is there life after death? If so, what kind of life? Is heaven a real place? If so, is hell also real? Maybe these questions spark the biggest fears of all!
Amid the worry and uncertainty, we can have peace and hope. Yes, there is life after this one. And yes, it can be better. There is a heaven. It is God’s Kingdom. Jesus told His disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled … I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1, 3, (NIV)
Just think of it ... Jesus told His disciples to not let their hearts be troubled. The thing is that He told them this when their hearts would be the most troubled. He spoke those words mere hours before He would be arrested and crucified! But the reason why they could find peace instead of turmoil was because He was going to provide a way to His Kingdom. Those words can resonate within us too. Of all the fear and turmoil we have, we can still have peace in knowing that the Kingdom is waiting.
However, we need to remember that this is God’s kingdom we are talking about. God Kingdom is perfect and holy because He is perfect and holy. We, however, are not. We are sinners because we sin. Maybe it’s big sins and maybe it’s little sins, but we still sin. And even one sin disqualifies us from God’s righteous kingdom because one sin makes us imperfect. Any imperfection ruins God’s perfect Kingdom.
But this is where God takes care of us because He loves us. God sent Jesus to die on the cross and raise from the dead to take care of sin by providing forgiveness. This is needed to make us perfect. In fact, Colossians 1:12-14 says:
“giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (NIV)
Imagine that. God loves us so He wants to be with us. This is impossible now because we are sinners living in the kingdom of darkness, and God is holy living in the kingdom of light. But Jesus became our redeemer forgiving us of sins. This forgiveness qualifies us to be in God’s righteous kingdom.
Of all the things that we fear, going to heaven should never be one of them! God can do anything, so there is not a sin that He cannot forgive. And, there isn't a sin that He won't forgive. If He loved us enough to send His Son to die on the cross for the purpose of forgiving us, He certainly will do it. Because of this security, what else do we have fear?
Is there a catch? No, but there is an acceptance that is required. Eternal life is a gift that God gives because He loves us. Like all gifts of love, it needs to be accepted for the love to be reciprocated. After all, God doesn’t force anyone to love, follow, or even believe in Him. All these things are of our choosing. Acceptance of Jesus’ redemption is necessary for forgiveness.
So, how does a person accept Jesus’ redemption and have eternal life? This is where faith comes in. Faith is the same thing as believing or trusting. We can’t see God giving us forgiveness. (It’s not like God gives us a “get-out-of-hell-free card” to be presented at the Pearly Gates!) Instead we completely trust that Jesus died to forgive us of our sins, and He rose again to provide us life. When we do and we ask for God’s forgiveness, He provides it. God has made it that easy because He loves us. Romans 10:9-10 says:
“That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (NIV)
Life has it’s fears and worries but trusting in Jesus’ salvation gives us the hope of eternal life and peace with God. (Romans 5:1) I hope that if you’re reading this you have accepted God’s great gift and have these things. If you haven’t, I hope that this article has given you something to think about. And, if you want to know more or have questions, please feel free to reach out to us!
Stephen Lee, Pastor of Friends in Faith