“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
Negativity and fear have a powerful place in our lives in the world. Our outer selves are all about the stick, not the carrot—everything is about what terrible thing will happen to us if we don’t, or what awful circumstance will befall us if we do. It’s fear as doctrine, underwriting every response.
The media provides us with frightening images showing the breakdown of the status quo, the changing of the guard, and casts it as a drama like the fall of empire, playing to all our insecurities about our place in the world. Whether it’s about immigration, terrorism, disease, the changing role of men and women in society, or just something as simple as body image and how we relate to how we look, there is one simple rule at play. Fear sells, because we’re indoctrinated to believe it’s a natural state. Once they’ve taught us to fear something, they can sell us on who is to blame for it (even if it’s ourselves), and so condemnation and guilt sell as well, because we let them.
But we’re also taught that we can fight back, overcome fear. We’re told that one of the noblest things we can do is display courage in the face of the enemy, in the face of overwhelming odds. How many great stories from history are stories of defiance in the face of certain doom? The Greeks at Thermopylae, where only a few thousand held the coastal pass for a week against the might of the entire Persian army, twenty times their size. The Battle of the Alamo, with a few hundred heroes courageously defending a fortified position against the might of the Mexican army. Constantly referenced in song and story, it’s near mythological episodes from history like this that fire the imagination, showing us how true men of courage and honor face hopelessness.
But again, the emphasis is on the negative—on hopelessness, fear, fighting against the impossible. They’re stories of people fighting rearguard actions…running backwards, facing the wrong way. As Christians, we do not just react to some received wisdom about how badly the world sucks! There’s no negativity in the heart of God, and the heart of God is where we live.
Think on all the times that you’ve been tempted not to try something new or important in your life because of a fear of failure. Have you recast that movie in your head, gone back and edited the bad parts? Has the fear become sensible caution, the doubt in yourself been renamed as “knowing your limitations”? Have the failures of the past made you believe that failure lies in your future as well? Because if that’s you, then you’re not thinking the way the Father thinks, or the way He wants you to think. God doesn’t believe in negativity. He doesn’t want it for us. It’s anathema to the way He sees us and the things He wants us to accomplish in Him.
We’re encouraged to turn away from fear, and instead embrace the positive power that our renewed minds and our enlightened hearts provide for us. We don’t have to rely on our own strength—that renewal and that enlightenment come from our confidence in the grace and goodness of God. We don’t get to be scared, not when we have the Creator of everything, the Lord of Hosts, at our back.
The past is gone. It was wiped away when we were reborn in Christ. We’re new now, and the buck stops with God. Our only ancestor is Christ and our only history is in Him. Any failures we’ve experienced are nothing compared to the successes to come, when we rely upon Him. We don’t need doubt, because He doesn’t doubt us. We don’t need caution, because He’s told us to GO! We don’t have to languish in regret about paths not taken and opportunities that have passed us by. We can seize our future, because the past is gone.
Any timidity we’ve experienced is a thing of the past, and the past is gone. Boldness is our inheritance, because we no longer believe that anything is insurmountable. Hopelessness is a thing of the past, and the past is gone. We have been made promises in our adversity, and our faith in those promises makes doubt and pessimism things of the past too. And the past is gone.
Think about all the things you have planned for your life, the promise over you. How do you approach those plans? Do you procrastinate, wait for it all to come to you? Is delay and demurral your preferred tactic? Do you sometimes feel like a passive participant in your own life—or worse, like you’re not participating at all?
The past is gone. Holding onto it is a waste of your time. It’s a shadow on your heart, when we have a vibrant, bright future to look to instead. Why look backwards while trying to move forwards? It’s where you’re going that’s the important thing. Running backwards gives the illusion that our past still exists, that our past is our future—and it’s also a sure way to trip over your own feet. Face in the right direction, in reliance on the grace and goodness of God, and put a sure foot forward.