HOLY SPIRIT: What Are You Afraid Of? by Francis Chan
Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
From: Forgotten God
The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless. (Tertullian)
Fear of rejection has paralyzed me more than once. God has answered my prayers for greater boldness, but I would be dishonest if I did not admit there are still times when I worry about how others view me. Even as I write this book, I wonder how friends will respond and how I will be labeled or even misunderstood.
Maybe caring too much about what other people think is not something you deal with personally; if so, then I am glad for it, but there is probably something else you fear. For many people, however, caring too much about what others think can be a serious, even a driving, fear.
Whole denominations have been built around specific beliefs about the Holy Spirit. I know people who have lost jobs at churches and Christian colleges because of their beliefs about the Holy Spirit. I even had a girl break up with me while I was in seminary because we believed differently about him! It is not one of those issues that is easy to float over. This is especially true if you belong to a particular “camp” with a specific belief or bent; it is certainly natural to fear rejection from those in your camp if you change your views.
Though this fear is natural, it’s not right. We are called to pattern our lives after the Way described in the Bible. We are not called to fear what following the Way of Jesus may require of us, but that doesn’t mean those fears won’t crop up. A life of following Christ requires relinquishing those fears when they do come. It means refusing to let your fears of what others think, your fears of rejection, keep you from pursuing the truth about the Holy Spirit and whatever else God is teaching you and calling you to.
Are you willing to pursue truth in your journey to know and be known by the Holy Spirit? Do you have enough humility to be open to the possibility that you have been wrong in your understanding of the Spirit? It’s easy to get into “defensive mode,” where you quickly disagree and turn to proof texts and learned arguments to defend what you’ve always believed. Rather than guarding your perspective, consider taking a fresh look at familiar passages to make sure you haven’t missed something. You may end up with the same theology you’ve always had, but maybe you won’t. Don’t let your views be determined by a particular denomination or by what you’ve always been told. Within the context of relationship with other believers, seek out what God has said about his Spirit. Open up your mind and your life to the leading of the Spirit, regardless of what others may think or assume about you.
Fear has a way of channeling our thought process. Fear of stepping outside of a certain theological framework causes us to be biased in our interpretations. We work diligently to “prove” that our presuppositions were correct (another example of eisegesis) rather than simply and honestly pursuing truth.
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