Points To Ponder Whom Do You Fear?
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
“The fear of man brings a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)
Here we are in an election year, and we have endured yet again the rather obnoxious process of people playing politics and working their campaigns to get elected. Of course we all know that the elections are not the only thing that are thick with people playing political games. There are politics - and politicians in every field and profession. The church is no exception.
The above proverb brought this to my mind. Study it slowly and carefully. Then think about your place of business or work. Think about not only “that guy” or “that boss of mine.” Sometimes we (you and me) are the ones who play politics, who rely on human ingenuity and manipulative strategies, who try to put on one kind of face while in reality we are thinking, intending, and often doing something else. Politics has a lot to do with conveying an image that distracts your colleague (or your opponent) from your true agenda. But, why should deception be necessary if God approves what you are doing?
“The fear of man” in the Proverb can speak to our tendency to be ruled by the human system in which we work or operate. We submit to the powers that keep that system intact and thriving. There is a point of submission at which you must choose to compromise righteousness or the plain truth of what is right in order to maintain your position in the eyes of those to whom you answer. Throughout history, terribly unjust power structures have thrived for decades and centuries because of those who chose to submit to the powers that be rather than the Power who was and is and always will be. He is the ultimate One to whom we will answer.
When someone is called of God to enter ministry (either among the laity or as clergy), he/she must answer and work out that call within a human-made structure of power and authority. That is the way society works. However, as that person moves closer to the righteous requirements and higher standards of God, these structures will tend to resist. There is a desire for those in power to be in control and to set the standard; but God is sovereign. He resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble. People with power do not easily humble themselves; and as the saying goes, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” As we submit to the authorities over us in the world we must choose daily to be led by “the fear of man” or to “trust in the Lord” and pay the price.
When your calling becomes your career, you have already submitted to the “fear of man.” To protect your career, advance your career, and to please those who have influence over your career, you will compromise your call. You will. Why?
Remember the principle behind the call of God in Jesus Christ. Read Mark 8:27-38 carefully. If you are not dead to self, you will live for self.
“...whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34b-35)
When the Apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stopped focusing on a career of following Jesus and began living his call to follow Jesus, the authorities (comparable to our modern day bishops, district superintendents, elders, etc.) became upset. Peter’s living for God threatened the “system” of the professionals whose career was supposed to be living for God. He said to them what only a called person can have the Spirit inspired courage to say:
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we can not but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)
When the time comes to choose whether you fear man or fear God, what will you say? What will you do? What ought you be doing right now?
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at The First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.