So we say with confidence, ?The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?? Hebrews 13:6
Do you fear growing in the faith? Fear missions and witnessing? Take comfort, our confidence from who Christ is and what He did for us leads to our boldness! Being bold means we are willing to take our faith, venture out with it, and do the right thing at the right time, regardless of the cultural and language barriers or any fears we may encounter. It enables us to speak the truth and perform a task to a new people group without fear of the consequences or results because it is the right and biblical thing to do. It is realizing that God is indeed in control. He is there within us, beside us, and He will take care of us. Therefore, we do not need to fear what others can do or what we may lose. Rather, we are to concentrate on our call with character and passion, and we can do serve Him overseas or anywhere with confidence, passion, and sincerity.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
When we are not exercising boldness, we will not be able to do missions , in fact we will become Christian cowards. This means we will be held back from what God has called us to do; we will miss the opportunities and connections with others He provides for our growth. We will be engulfed by fear, cynicism, negativity, discouragement, and pessimism from others as well as from ourselves. These negative traits create a negative attitude that is infectious to others. It causes people to refuse the chance to go forward with what God is calling them to. Our faith will never get fully developed, and will have such a huge hole in it that no real effective mission can be done. The exercise of faith and the pursuit of relationships require risks and the willingness to be hurt, as people will hurt and betray us; only Christ remains true. This fear seriously hampers our faith. Thus, the person and/or our church or our mission field remains ensnared in fear, allowing obstacles to stop them so that the work our Lord intended for them to do remains undone. Remember, God heals us and helps us move on; there is no reason to be held back by our fears. Be careful not to let your faith have extensive, large holes, or be empty of faith yet filled with fear.
He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 14: 26-27
Boldness is necessarily for venturing out to new lands and peoples. This only comes from the confidence we have built in and with Christ-who He is, and what He can do. It is seeing Christ ahead of us, causing us to know for certain that the task in front of us is no match for the power leading us! This attitude directly affects how we respond to any given situation. When we have confidence in our Lord, we can venture beyond our limits, abilities, and comfort zones to engage in the simple things of life, from talking to a stranger in a kind, encouraging way or sharing the Gospel with a friend, to the big stretches, such as church planting, teaching with truth and conviction, as well as going overseas to a strange and foreign land as a missionary. "I can do all things," Paul said, not because he was a great or powerful man, but because he knew His God, and what He could do. We will not fear what others can do to us, just as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego demonstrated. They knew God could save them. They just did not know if He would save them. But, whatever God did, they trusted Him, even if the furnace took their lives away. So, they could walk into that furnace with confidence, whatever the results might be (Daniel 3:8-30). God chose to do a miracle. And, even if He had not, how we respond is more important than any miracle we may receive.
Missions also needs Perseverance
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1
The dictionary definition of perseverance is, "To persist in an idea, purpose, or task despite obstacles." (Webster) In the Christian missions' context, perseverance means to continue in a state of Grace to the end, for our eternal reward, so it affects our ability to serve Him. It is literally fixing our eyes upon Jesus for our life and task, period. In diversity, the call for the Christian is to keep on track, knowing He will take care of us because we belong to Him. Whatever we face and go through, our Lord is there and we are in His arms. When we realize this fact before we do our mobilizations and fundraising, we can persevere better through anything because our Lord, King, and Creator of the universe is there, carrying us through.
It is essential for the missionary and any capable leader to be focused on the goal ahead and be able to carry both self and the task through tough times. Too many missionaries get frustrated when things do not go as they had planned or in their perceived way, and they either give up or neglect their responsibility. Their eyes leave Jesus and just focus inward on themselves and the whys of what has happened.
When we neglect to persevere in our assurance in Christ, disappointments will come into our lives. Being disappointed, having frustrations, and/or feeling disconnected or disillusioned comes from the collisions between our expectations and our experiences, while ignoring the signposts of God's promises. What we envision or want does not come about, what we hoped for does not happen and we feel let down. Thus, our expectations will collide with our experiences and then create a life wrecked by self-pity and resentment. Such a life becomes a waste, most of all of our witness. Or, we can lead a triumphant life. The choice is ours and the key is where we look for our hope. This is about our circumstances and how we look at our Lord. How we see adversity and His sovereignty will totally affect how we learn from and deal with it.
Unanchored stress and disappointment, along with detachment from not looking to God will prevent us from seeing His signposts or precepts. We cannot expect God to get us through without any effort on our part. To grow, we have to struggle and work it out. It is the struggle that helps us, that builds us, and that forms us. Without it, there is no growth, no real impacting faith, no honest character, no genuine patience, and no maturity or positive, impacting relationships. We will just camp in the whys of life, refusing to stretch toward learning and moving on for Christ.
Too many missionaries who witness feel they have to answer all of the whys in life, like the whys of suffering. It is not so much how we answer the question on the reason for suffering, but how we live out our lives and walk with Christ. Too many people are stuck in the questions and never learn to trust and rely on our Lord, or learn to deal with life as a learning experience so to be better prepared as a servant of the Lord. Suffering is a natural aspect of the human experience, as we inherited a sinful nature that corrupts all of God's creation, including us. Suffering does not diminish our faith; in fact, it will strengthen it. When we accept Christ, we take on His righteousness as a covering. However, the sinful nature is still there, and we must confront and fight against it all of our Christian lives. As we battle on, each instance becomes easier to handle as we grow in righteousness and sanctification. This is a prime benefit of our spiritual growth. The faithful and cheerful Christian is the one who perseveres, regardless of the circumstance!
If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37: 23-24
Since suffering is a natural aspect of life, we need to realize this is even more true when we venture out, and thus be on guard ourselves from it, whether it is physical, mental, emotional, financial, or spiritual. The Bible tells us, many times, to expect it and to be persistent when faced with adversity. Faith is the key to make this happen; it is faith that allows the work of our Lord in us. Christ will give us the comfort and strength to press on. Our reward is yet to come and our adventure in this life is very short compared to the eternity to come. So, we need to make the best of it as life deals us the curves; we are not to be overcome with frustration, but overcome, with joy, through the life we have in Christ. When things do not go our way, we need to make sure we are going His way!
The key to unlocking fear for being capable missionaries is the acceptance of our Lord's precepts, so that the contentment learned from our worship and prayer time is opened to us. Sometimes that is all we can do, but it is not a last resort. It is our front line and most important defense. It is to be our preparation for the weathering of storms. It will help us build our relationship with Christ so our faith, confidence, and courage will grow. Then, those storms and crises will make us stronger and help us help others through them. When we fully learn to trust, then we can obey, building our confidence so we can sail across those storm-tossed seas of life in confidence as Jesus Christ is there beside us, manning the helm!
Do you fear growing overseas? Fear witnessing? Our Confidence from who and what Christ did for us leads to our ability to press on!
Questions to Ponder
1. When things do not go your way, what do you tend to do? What should you do?
2. What happens when you are not exercising confidence?
3. How can Hope, Faithfulness, and Optimism build your Confidence?
4. How can you make sure you are going His Way and not your way?
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 2-3
Some passages to consider: Numbers 6:24-26; Luke 5:5-7; John 12:32; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; James 1:22
© 2006 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/