“Wether we like to admit it or not, many religions of the world are concocted to hold fear and control over people. Nobody likes to talk about this, but it’s the way it is. The human psyche is vulnerable because of its built-in fear of failure, and becomes an easy prey.” Ravi Zacharias, Walking from East to West, page 22.
Why do we really do what we do? What motivates us to pursue religious disciplines, serve others, better ourselves?
In all major world religions, aside from Christianity, there is no assurance of salvation, there is only hard work and wishful thinking. This provides for “worship” that is fear-filled, not love-driven. People will do crazy things out of fear, like bleed themselves for their gods, sacrifice precious and valuable things, fast for days, kneel and chant, bow before nature, kill others, and….you can fill in your own crazy stunts. All religious actions can become formulaic. If I do such and such, I will be prosperous, or healthy, or powerful. And what if something is not done just right? Will God have his revenge on me? Perhaps I’ll just lose my basketball game and not my life.
It is easy and natural for us to think, “If I don’t do this, God will not love me.” Satan masks himself in the faces of many religions and demands things, and out of fear, people comply. Jesus relates to us and freely offers us grace, life, forgiveness, and out of love (and conviction of the Spirit), people come.
A person who loves and a person who fears may do the same things – pray, attend the house of the Lord, fast, show respect for his neighbor – but the topography of their hearts is as different as mountain and plain. One fears disappointing God. The other loves with child-like faith. Fear is the gas in the car of legalism. A legalistic heart fears even legalism, and condemns self for failure to live by grace.
Are you in a religion or a relationship? Do you worship or practice magic? If you engage your relationship with Jesus as a “wave the wand” experience, an “I’ll do this, you do that” sort of thing, you’re bogged down in legalism. True worship flows from love. Perfect Love casts out fear.
Perfect Love does not abandon a covenant because its vassal forgot (or chose not) to pray in the morning. Perfect Love does not judge His child for skipping a Bible reading. Perfect Love reaches out, a hand on each side of the cross, and bleeds until a resurrected embrace conquers the fear-stricken sinner.
If you are one who has a critical inner voice, it’s time to yell back, “Enough!” Isn’t that what Jesus said on the cross? “It is finished.” Don’t berate yourself for that nagging “I should….” Just turn the other way, away from fear that you’re not doing enough. You may even try saying out loud, “I will not listen. Love is the only voice I will hear.”
Before Martin Luther found grace in the book of Romans he talked the ear off his priest confessing every minute detail of his life. We will never confess all our sins because we aren’t even aware of how awful we are. Besides, the cross covers all sins forwards and backwards in our lives because Jesus, and his grace, are beyond time. The words of Perfect Love are, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” So come and rest, and leave the fear behind.