Fear & Facebook

                After the tragic earthquake in Japan a few weeks ago, the following post kept popping up on my Facebook from some well-meaning Christian friends:

                Sept. 11th (New York), Jan. 11th (Haiti), and March 11th (Japan)…Luke 21:10-11 – Then Jesus said to his disciples:  “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven”…Jesus says, “For behold, I come quickly.”  So ask yourself r u ready?  Sad to say, many won’t repost this message.

                Several things about this post bother me, but my biggest concern is that it promotes fear, not love and assurance.  The motivation behind such a post is to spur the reader to pray the sinner’s prayer and get saved.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the concern that the posters have for others.  I’m just not sure that the Triune God wants fear to be the motivation for a relationship.  Love is the basis of any healthy relationship, and our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is no different.

                Here’s what the Apostle John had to say about love:  “God is love.  When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.  This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day -our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.  There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love” (I John 4:17-18, The Message).

                My husband and I are approaching our 25th wedding anniversary.  I remember when he asked me to marry him on bended knee at an intimate French restaurant.  Can you imagine how he would have felt if I would have responded, “Yes, I’ll marry you, but only because I’m scared to death that you’ll punish me if I don’t.”  That’s the sentiment that this Facebook post sends about the Triune God – if a reader doesn’t choose to pray the prayer, make a decision, and get saved, God will make him pay.

                The truth is that the Triune God desires a relationship with each one of us but isn’t willing to coerce us to make it happen.  The freedom to choose is God’s gift to us, just like a lover desires to be chosen by his beloved.  Either way we choose, the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit remains unchangeable and ever hopeful.  Their desire is for reconciliation and relationship, not punishment.

                So if I were to rewrite this post, this is what I would say:

                Sept. 11th (New York), Jan. 12th (Haiti), and March 11th (Japan)…John 16:33 – “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (NLT).  Thank you, Jesus, for never leaving nor forsaking us even in our deepest, darkest despair.

~by Nan Kuhlman               

8 comments so far

  1. tjbrassell on

    Yes, Yes, Yes!! That’s what the Gospel is talking about Nan! I am soooooo grateful I never even got a hint of that “send around” on Facebook! No. No. No!! Yikes! However I am glad for your rewrite of it and I have officially posted it on my Facebook wall to the glory of the Goodness of the Father, Son and Spirit Who have received us all in the Son! 🙂

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Tim,

      I hope that the date error on the Haiti earthquake in my conclusion doesn’t diminish the point of the post for those who only read the conclusion on your Facebook wall. Thanks for your encouragement and enthusiasm!

  2. Lance McKinnon on

    Nan, you have my hearty AMEN! It’s sad that one would see the events in Japan as an opportunity to promote fear by twisting scripture in order to push one’s agenda. What the world needs to hear after such tragedies is not that an angry vengeful God may be coming for them next but rather the very words of Jesus prior to the posted Luke 21:10-11. Verse 9 says “When you hear of wars and revolutions, DO NOT BE FRIGHTENED. And it’s not helpful to have the “For behold, I come quickly” statement jump from Revelation to Luke. Jesus message to us in our wars and earthquakes is not that the Father is coming quickly to punish us but rather that the triune God has come in Jesus already in such a way as to be present in our trials and sufferings. Wars, earthquakes, pestilence and so on are sadly the state of affairs we find ourselves in. But there is no need for fear because it is in this very state of affairs that Jesus is working. Out of death he brings resurrection. Thank God that Japan has a savior working right in the middle of their pain. And we need not fear that he will abandon us in ours.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Lance,

      I’m glad the post resonated with you. I might mention that I found out after the post was published that the Haiti earthquake actually happened on January 12th, not January 11th. I should have verified the date for my conclusion, but despite the inaccurate date, I think the point of the post remains unchanged. Thanks for your interest.

  3. AirDave on

    My friend troy recommended your ‘blog. It’s incredibly encouraging and inspiring.

    The post I saw after the earthquake in Japan was the numerology one. It really is a shame that an opportunity was missed for comfort and encouragement along with humanitarian aid. Fresh drinking water is one thing, but Japan, Haiti and other places around the world thirst for comfort in this tragic time of grief. It’s a shame that a tragedy is turned into – “Beware! This could happen to YOU!”
    “You could be PUNISHED for YOUR sin like the Japanese – ‘cos we all know (wink-wink) that THEY’re bad people. YOU don’t want to be THAT bad that our stern Lord HAS to punish do you?”

  4. Nan Kuhlman on

    AirDave,

    Thanks to you and your friend Troy for checking out the blog and taking the time to drop me a note. I like your phrase “…’cos we all know (wink-wink) that THEY’re bad people.” I think that raises an interesting question for those caught up in judging the victims of disasters – how do we determine who is “bad?” From the news reports I hear, Japan has had no looting, folks are standing in line patiently for water, etc. I hate to say it, but if such a disaster happened here, I doubt we Americans would be so well-behaved. I guess it’s a good thing that judging others isn’t our job, since the standards we use are a moving target. I agree that it would be more helpful to remind everyone of humanity’s inclusion in Christ, knowing that when one of our brothers or sisters suffers, we all feel the pain.

    Nan

  5. Jeannine on

    I saw that post on FB too, Nan – and it made me sad. Ready for what exactly?? Nothing good by the sound of it (for most of humanity at least). I agree 100% with your thoughts – and your analogy of a proposal was an excellent one!

    I took a long drive recently and twice I saw billboards that read, “Accept Jesus as Saviour…or regret it forever.” The image in my mind was of Jesus extending his hand with a loving expression on his face – but when rejected, his face twists, his expression darkens to hate, the hand is withdrawn and his back turned.

    So happy to be able to say this is NOT the Saviour I know! – and that his hand is never withdrawn or his back turned.

  6. Nan Kuhlman on

    Jeannine,

    I’m glad that you recognize the true Jesus is NOT the one on that billboard. A billboard like that is similar to the FB message I posted about – its intent is to provoke fear, not love and assurance. Rather than just blindly accepting something since it speaks about Jesus, we Christians need to discern if what we’re reading or viewing is actually speaking about the true Jesus, the Son of the God, who reveals through the Holy Spirit the Father’s real character and heart of love for us.

    Nan


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