29 Dec 2012
I wonder if you might briefly consider this question; which of the following words best form the opposite of faith, unbelief or fear? Perhaps both of these words in their own ways make for a firm fit for the opposite of faith.
The idea that unbelief is opposite of faith is undeniably technically true. However, in the realm of practical experience the idea of fear might fit more firmly as our opposite of choice. Authentic faith seems to be primarily active. If activity is a key measurement for our evaluation, then fear may qualify for more activity than unbelief. Further obscured in our evaluation is the subtle but significant sense of cause and effect. In other words, is fear the cause of unbelief ……… or is unbelief the cause of fear?
If we were to decide that fear is in fact the result of unbelief, then it would perhaps follow that unbelief is the primary opposite of faith and fear is simply a secondary symptom of skepticism. Whichever way this actually works we would patently propose that both unbelief and fear stand systematically contrary to faith.
We recently celebrated the birth of Jesus, the Christ, and the promised Messiah. The day of Jesus’ birth was a glorious day; a day to build our faith in the God of Abraham. Jesus’ birth had been promised for hundreds of years. His birth was accompanied by a host of heavenly messengers. Yet even on that eventful day our world seemed filled with fear and unbelief.
Things were pretty dim in the holy land of Abraham. God’s chosen land was cloistered and controlled by the country of Rome. The religious leaders had developed their own rules of which many were in direct defiance against the directives of God. There had been no public prophetic word from God for four hundred years. And then Jesus appeared. God came down. Immanuel, the promised Savior was born. Yet only a few recognized His arrival. Few believed that the Messiah had come. It seems that unbelief was as substantial as smoke in the middle of a forest fire. The whole nation smelled of fear and unbelief.
God often delights to come down when His people determine themselves to be at a desperate destination. Remember, in the days of Elijah, when the wicked King Ahab was on Israel’s throne? Primarily from the promotion of pagan Queen Jezebel, virtually the entire nation was going after the cult worship of Baal. Then there was a drought, no rain for three and a half years. It was in the midst of these dreadful conditions that God came down.
1 Kings 18:38-39 (AMP)
38 Then the fire of the Lord felland consumed the burnt sacrifice and the wood and the stones and the dust, and also licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and they said, The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God! -[emphasis added]
But even after God answered with fire, Elijah became familiar with fear from unbelief. Apparently Elijah, like Peter on the Sea of Galilee, took his eyes off of God and positioned them upon current conditions on the continent.
We must be reminded of the faithfulness of God. We need daily reminders of His love for us and His eternal faithfulness to those who are called by His name. God told us through His prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 41:10 (AMP)
10 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. - [emphasis added]
As we observe God’s nature revealed in His word we detect His indisputably constant characteristic, faithfulness. God is ALWAYS faithful. What a commanding reminder of His faithfulness, the offering of His only son, Jesus, to die in our place? Perhaps we should take heed to the words of the angels on that memorable night:
Luke 2:10 (Darby)
10 And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I announce to you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people; - [emphasis added]
Authentic faith brings death to fear and unbelief. The birth of the Babe and work of His precious blood provide the devastating and everlasting evidence for enduring faith. May God’s rich and prevailing blessings pour forth from your faith and shower joy upon you and your family throughout this coming year.
God is preparing to provide for His people yet again. He is planning to come down with an outpouring of His Spirit. Let’s join our hearts together. Let’s ask Him to rend the heavens and come down. Let’s pray patiently and persistently and with authentic active faith expecting enormous glory for His name!