Spandex, High Hair, and No Fear

Does anybody remember the clothing line ‘No Fear?’ It was the ever popular brand when I was in Jr. High. Even now, as I think back, I’m breaking out in a sweat remembering those horrid gym classes and how un-cool you were if you didn’t have a ‘No Fear’ shirt. Those who were especially popular had the full get up, including, a ‘No Fear’ shirt, cut off sweat pants (they had to be shorter than comfortable and somewhat frayed, otherwise you were a total buffoon), Spandex underneath the sweat shorts (they had to stretch to your knees, otherwise, once again, you were a total buffoon), ankle socks (preferably, with the Nike swoosh or any other brand logo, which, if you didn’t have, put you in the same class as a homeless vagrant), $100.00 Nike shoes (preferably, the newest Air Jordan’s), and crusty, overly hair sprayed hair (girls bangs had to be two feet high, and boys had to have the spiked porcupine dew on half their head). It was the mid 90’s when glam rock was fading, and garage bands from Seattle were either screaming stuff nobody could understand or mumbling about some crazy boy named, Jeremy (where were you Shazaam when we needed you?).

For those whom were bestowed the honor of living out their Jr. High years at that time, ‘No Fear’ wasn’t just a shirt; it was the fabric of our voice. When you put on a ‘No Fear’ shirt, you were shouting at the top of your lungs, “World, I’m not afraid of you.” It was a message that covered us every day like a warm blanket, and even though we were terrified beyond belief as we put on our stretchy spandex, we were soon comforted with this unrelenting idea of ‘No Fear,’ as we pulled our powerful shirts over our spiky hair. It hasn’t been until recently that I discovered the power of that message. In most cases, the message of ‘No Fear,’ has served me well, but recently, in my readings, I have come across an overwhelming amount of passages that speak of another kind of fear that I think the western church (myself included) has neglected.

Last week in my post, ‘Is Whitney in Heaven?,’ I started wrestling with the idea of how some events should lead us into a healthy fear. Now I know that the scriptures tell us, “Perfect loves casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), but there is also a fear that is healthy. It’s a fear that is often over looked. In my readings over the past week, I have been amazed at how many times this idea of healthy fear comes up. Time and again, phrases like, ‘great fear gripped,’ ‘great fear seized,’ and ‘great fear swept,’ are used in connection with God’s power moving through his church. In Acts 5, we read of Ananias and Sapphira, whom after trying to deceive God (all because they wanted to appear more spiritual than they really were), were struck dead for their deception. After, the scriptures tell us, “Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.” (Acts 5:11)

In Luke, we read of an account where Jesus and his disciples are in the villageof Nain, and a large funeral procession approaches. “The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.

Then we have the account in Luke 8, where Jesus calms a mighty storm. “One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him. (Luke 8:22-25)

By now you’re wondering why I have this morbid fascination with fear, right. There’s no denying that I am a little morbid (ask anyone who knows me), but as I look at the results of this type of fear gripping the church, I can’t help but want a little more of it for myself. We could probably redefine the word ‘fear’ with ‘reverence,’ but personally I don’t think it packs the same punch. As Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead, I think it was genuine fear that struck hearts. I’m willing to bet, if this type of thing occurred in one of our churches today, there would be a whole lot more people rethinking their walks with God, including myself. Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, and from the look of things, I don’t think God does either. I can’t help but wonder if my view of God has gotten a little skewed over time. The church (myself included), has really grasped the idea of God as my buddy, but I think we’ve forgotten that he is ‘a consuming fire.’ As you look at every instance in the scriptures where someone encounters the living God, ‘No Fear,’ was the furthest thing from any of their minds.

So what should we do with this whole fear topic? Please don’t run out and make a new clothing line or a trendy bracelet to counter ‘No Fear’ with something incredibly creative and original, like ‘Fear God,’ or better yet, ‘Fear This.’ I know what you’re thinking; we have to have an effective marketing campaign and strategy to get this idea across. We can’t just let this idea drift aimlessly in the cosmos without some effective signage and design appeal. Please resist the temptation to plaster your cubicles, and the bumpers of your cars with transformational tag lines. Instead, lets take a deep breath, or two or three (or however many it takes to kill the impulse to launch the newest life changing Christian Ad Campaign), and simply ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts. Let’s take more time today to examine our lives to see if we are truly living in faith (which means we do what God say’s). If we find that our lives are not matching up, let’s not being driven by that old ‘No Fear’ message that, after all, drove us to wear tight multicolor spandex.

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