Fear and Anxiety
Laying the Foundation: Read Genesis 3:1-11. One of the key points that Geoff wanted to make had to do with the nature of “misplaced fear.”
– How did our misplaced fear and anxiety begin historically?
Leaders: it began with a broken relationship with our creator and a misunderstanding/distrusting of what God’s intentions were in moving toward us in love – Geoff gave the example of how Adam and Even hid from God in shame in the garden. In their sin, they did not trust Him or His intentions toward them.
In Matthew 10, Jesus gives two types of people we can fear – man or God.
– What are some ways that the fear of man is manifested in our lives? What is the end results of fearing man?
Leaders: Geoff mentioned a few ways in which a wrong kind of fear can manifest itself in our lives: Fear prevents us from sharing and treasuring the true gospel; fear tells us that if we open ourselves to love of others, they will reject us; Fear tells us not to trust others; fear obsesses about the future, not trusting God’s providence for our lives.
– On the flip-side of that earlier question is this one: What does a proper fear of God look entail? How is it different than a fear of man? How does Jesus describe His role in the eternal judgment?
Leaders: There is a fear that is reverential, deferential and recognizing of the splendor and majesty of the Creator. Geoff read Psalm 139 which says in verse 14 that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. David realized that God was a holy God, a majestic God, and that ultimately judgment and salvation belonged to Him. Lastly, it is a testament to the divinity of Christ that He claims a divine role in the judgment of all mankind in verses 32 and 33 of Matthew 10. Let us remember that while Christ was fully human, He is also fully God of the universe, reigning in power, and will come back to judge the living and the dead.
In the sermon, the gospel was shown to be the key remedy for an improper fear of man.
– How does the gospel correct our thinking about who to fear? What does the gospel remedy our alienation from God?
Leaders: If alienation from God is the cornerstone to our fears and anxieties, then the gospel is that agent by which we are reconciled to God. Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 for more on the reconciliation we have with God. Remember leaders to emphasize that this came at a cost – it wasn’t free. Christ so loved the world that He died – shedding His own blood. Beaten beyond recognition; enduring excruciating pain on our behalf. This was a man who was truly God! This was someone whose heart beat with the mission of reconciliation! Does our heart match that theme? Do we face our fears with those blood bought truths? Remind your group of how far Christ went to ensure that no fear could separate you from Him! (Reading Romans 8: 31-39 could be helpful as well).
Pastor Geoff pointed out that one of the manifestations of a fear of man is a lack of love and a lack of trust.
– Why would that be the case – why is it that fear of man manifests itself in a lack of love?
Leaders: We believe that if we open ourselves up to love others, they will get to know parts of us that are unlovable, leading them to NOT love us! Similarly, when we fear man, it affects our relationships because we can’t really trust people. Jesus repairs this by loving us even when we didn’t engender or deserve His love. Read Romans 5:6-11 and discuss these questions in light of those glorious gospel truths.
Geoff made the point that misplaced fear is a symptom of a more core question: can I trust God?
– What are some of the things God has done in order to enable us to trust him?
– What does trust look like in our lives – and how is that contrasted with some of the ways we fear man?
Leaders: Read 1 John 4:18, and perhaps the Lewis quote below to set the stage. God has set His perfect love upon us. Even though we were sinners, He sought us out, He loved us, and He made us His own. Geoff pointed out that this love coming in the midst of our being made known – fully known – by God is one of the key things we need to take away from the sermon. We can trust Him because He knows all our sins, and yet still sent His son to die for our sins. This is an incredible acceptance, and an incredible grace we have from the Creator!
“Perfect love, we know, casteth out fear. But so do several other things — ignorance, alcohol, passion, presumption, and stupidity. It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear.” – C.S. Lewis
Takeaway: Are there ways in which I am fearing man? How is this manifesting itself in my life (ask a spouse, or close Christian friend to help identify blind spots!)? Am I cultivating a healthy reverence for Christ? Does my heart and mind have a perspective that flows from a fear of the Lord? How does this perspective destroy my craven/sinful fear of man? What scripture am I going to memorize to remind myself of the Lord’s reign and gospel? Who can I speak to and pray with about my fear of man?