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November 16, 2010 / beidson

The Terror of Knowing What This World is About: You & the Gospel, Under Pressure

You don’t need a terrorist in your city to understand terror–it’s instinctive.  We are all terrorized daily.  Not by bearded, middle-eastern men, and probably not by schizophrenic white guys who’ve got a problem with their fathers.  And most likely not even by little old ladies who are suspicious of everything and take it out on everyone.

Terror reigns over us by virtue of being human.  Because to be afraid is to know evil.  It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about.

But however this terror manifests itself in our lives, we can be sure it only does so insofar as we live under the dominion and power of death.  There may not be a terrorist in your town, but there is one in your home.  We are ruled by the “cosmic powers” of darkness and “spritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  In fact, I wish it were simply a matter of tracking down a maniac running through our city streets.  But the truth is our enemy runs through the streets of every town in every country, all over the world.  And what’s worse, we’re on his side.  We are “sons of disobedience” acting on carnal, unruly impulses (Ephesians 2:2-3).  We may not have guns and chemicals, but we have sex, money and fame, and by all standards, those have done far more damage than guns ever will.

Our fear is instincitve because it resides within us–we are ruled by fear.  And more significantly, we cannot escape.  We may not be curled up under the staircase, shaking and shivering, but our fear is nevertheless displayed through worrying and grabbing and craving and hoarding and manipulating and controlling.  Our problem in not being dysfunctional or disordered; our problem is being dark and unaware.  We are born under terror.  We all know what the world is about.

But the gospel knows what the world is about too.  Death does not have to have dominion over us.  We do not have to be ruled by fear.  In fact, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  The pressure of living in slavery to sinful cravings is very real and very powerful–we all know this too well.  Like a relentless oppressor, Satan lords our sin and shame over us, and rightly so–we truly are guilty and helpless apart from Christ.  Like an evil task master, Satan continually drives us with a whip, pushing us to deny God by the pursuit of pleasure and provision and power apart from God.  We are literally enslaved to our flesh, enslaved to sin and death.

But Jesus knows good and evil too, and he is not afraid of knowing what this world is about.  He endured the pressure of sin, the burden of brokeness, and relentlessly chased down our enemy to the cross, where he put him to open shame (Colossians 2).  Have you laughed in the face of a terrorist?  Jesus did, and in Christ, so do we.  Our enemy has been made a mockery–his terror has been tamed.  We do not need to grab for food and clothing–Jesus will provide.  We do not need to lust after things to find pleasure–Jesus will satisfy our bellies.  We do not need to manipulate for power–we will reign with Jesus in perfect peace and justice.

Don’t turn away from it all like a blind man–look to Christ.  Don’t give in to the demands of death–surrender to Jesus who mocks death.  Don’t give in to the pressure to let your fear drive you to be a terrorist–an out-of-control person who hurts others for selfish gain.  Let the gospel crush your fear and get out from under the pressure of knowing what this world is about.

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