“Fear that does not take you to God will take you away from God.”
This summer is the 45th Anniversary of the original release of Jaws which was released on June 20, 1975. Long before Jaws, I was terrified of sharks. Each year our family vacationed in Florida. I remember seeing sharks caught by fishermen. It left a powerful memory in my mind.
Jaws birthed “shark-phobia” for many. The summer of its release tourism was hurt on beaches, particularly in New England where Peter Benchley’s fictional story takes place.
Just the soundtrack from Jaws can send chills up your spine. Steven Spielberg originally thought composer John Williams was joking when he played the score for him. Yet, later the director would credit the theme – which won an Academy Award –for being “responsible for half of the success of [the] movie.”
How powerful is the legacy of Jaws? It’s certainly responsible for generations of nervous beachgoers eyeing the black depths of the water with fear of what monsters lurk below. It’s so powerful that it even made phobia experts — the people whose job it is to talk people down from their irrational fears — afraid to take a dip in the ocean.
The problem, however, is that the fear is entirely disproportionate to the reality. The chances of dying in a shark attack are just one in 3.7 million, according to National Geographic. The real dangers of the world are gas-powered. You have a 1 in 112 chance of dying in a car accident in your lifetime. The frenzy over shark fears got so bad that the author, Peter Benchley, later regretted depicting sharks as killing machines.
Fear. We don’t usually like to think about fear or talk about fear, but fear actually determines and drives much of what we do or don’t do. Stories of things to fear are all around us. If you scroll through your social media feeds, turn on the actual news, or even walk through the checkout line at the grocery store, you’re confronted with bad news: wars and threatened wars. Viruses. Murder. Injustice. Grief. In normal circumstances, these things were already all around us. Now, in the midst of a pandemic, bad news is our near-constant “friend,” and with it a chronic sense of anxiety.
Fear is a formula for failure. Fear is not from God. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind” (Phillips). How many lost the joy of a fun-filled summer vacation because of Jaws?
Fear leads to skepticism. When we’re afraid, we begin to doubt. We doubt ourselves, doubt other people, and we doubt God and His Word. We become skeptical. Cynics, at the root, basically have a problem with fear. We often ridicule and question when at heart, we’re merely afraid.
Fear leads to selfishness. When someone is afraid, do they use plural pronouns or singular ones? When I’m afraid, my focus is focused on myself. I don’t think about others. I don’t think about anybody else, I'm just focusing in on me…and I certainly don’t think about God.
Fear leads to stubbornness. We resist change when we’re afraid. The known is “safe,” even if it’s destructive or the status quo. Our boat may be sinking but it’s our boat, so please don’t rock it. As a result, fear stunts our growth. It keeps businesses from growing. It keeps churches from growing and it keeps us from growing spiritually on an individual level.
Fear leads to shortsightedness. When you’re absorbed with what you’re presently afraid of, you have difficulty seeing the future. Instead of having a vision for tomorrow, you’re absorbed with just surviving today.
Too many believers are satisfied being stuck where it feels safe than take a risk. They’re so afraid to let go of fear and trust God, that they really don’t know what else to do. Some have lived in fear for so long that living in fear has become their normal. They don’t even consider moving forward and stepping out in faith.
You can be fear-free! When Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, you have a reason for confidence. Your Savior is the Lord! Since Jesus Christ is Lord, that means that He is sovereign over your birth, He is sovereign over your life, and He will be sovereign over your death.
Jesus Christ is Lord over your birth. That simply means that of all the millions of people who could potentially have come from the union of your father and your mother, God created you! In great love and mercy, God planned who you would be, where you’d live, and even your entire eternity!
Jesus Christ is Lord over your life. That means that everything that has happened to you, the good you’ve enjoyed even the evil you’ve suffered, was known to God before the beginning of time. It means that your future is known and planned by your Heavenly Father. While life is full of surprises for us, unexpected twists and turns, nothing ever comes as a surprise to God. Wonderfully, that means that God works through all that has happened in your past and whatever will happen in your future.
Jesus Christ is Lord over your death. That simply means that Jesus Christ is in complete control of the timing, the circumstances, and the outcome of your death, which for a Christian believer, whenever it comes, will be an immediate translation into the glory of heaven.
The famed early American preacher, George Whitfield said, “We are immortal till our life’s work is done.” Please use that truth when you struggle with fear. Even if you’re afraid of going into the water, as you dip your toes in the water, it’s a wonderful biblical reminder, “I am immortal till my life’s work is done.”
Whatever happens, you don’t need to be afraid, even if you hear the Jaws theme in the background. Your Heavenly Father loves you and He’s got this…all of it! Will you though choose to trust Him? Will you leave your fears and choose to rest in the promises of His Word? Will you let His peace flood your soul? It’s time for God’s people to be free and exchange fear for faith. Will you?
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.