There is an ancient disease currently spreading that you more than likely have come in contact with. You may actually be infected with it at this very moment. This disease is hard to label because it is easily disguised as something noble. Make no mistake, however, it is deadly. In today’s post, I’d like to shed some light on what this disease is, and how it masks itself in our lives. This post could be a test indicating whether or not you are currently infected with this disease.
The opposite of love is fear. As you probably know, fear is running rampant in many ways these days. Fear is used as a useful tool to control people. Fear keeps people from asking questions and venturing beyond the prescribed boundaries. Fear robs us of life and freedom. Fear is the number one tool used by our adversary to keep us in slavery.
Many times, fear is used in the attempt to accomplish what is seemingly ‘good’. While fear is common in every system of mankind, the religious system and the political system have learned to master the use of this disease in a very clever way. The fear tactics of the religious & political systems are so widely used that many of us have unknowingly been infected with it without knowing.
Whenever our status quo is threatened, our adversary attempts to inject fear into us in two significant ways. I’d like to share what these two common religious & political tactics are so we can recognize when they are used against us, and so we will not fall into the same trap ourselves.
- Maligning The Messenger
Whenever someone is presenting an idea or concept that threatens the status quo, there will be an attempt by those who have been infected with the disease of fear to malign the character of the messenger. Regardless if this is intentional or not, malignment occurs as an illegitimate form of self defense.
This can be clearly seen in the political arena each time there is an election season. Maligning the messenger is not limited to the political arena, however. Evangelical religious culture has also learned to master this type of thinking. The more time we have spent in a religious environment, the more likely we are to be infected with this kind of a fear based tactic. Maligning the messenger usually occurs in three very crafty and effective ways.
1. Maligning the messenger by questioning their motives.
Questioning the motives of a messenger is a very effective way of malignment. Even a subtle implication that another person may have an impure motive can affectively poison anything that person might say or do. This trap is very easy to fall into, and is one that I see casually happen among brothers and sisters in Christ all too often. Whenever we openly or subtly malign the perceived motives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, it is like going to an elaborate pot-luck and suggesting that one of the main dishes of gourmet food has been contaminated with poison. No one will touch that dish no matter how pure & fresh the food may actually be.
2. Maligning the messenger through labels and associations.
Maligning a messenger by putting a label on them is a tactic that I have seen used most often both in the political world, and the evangelical world. In the political world, if someone is labeled a ‘liberal’, many who consider themselves to be ‘conservative’ will automatically dismiss what that person is saying simply because their label has already tarnished them. The vice-versa is also an unfortunate reality as well. Seeing a person through a ‘label’ allows us to automatically dismiss what a person is saying without considering what that person might actually be saying.
If I had a dime for every time I saw this same political tactic used in the evangelical world, I’d be rich. Over the years, I have seen many books come across the landscape that challenged the status-quo of religious culture. Instead of actually considering what an author was saying, things were said like:
“Did you know that (insert author’s name) is one of those ‘emergent’ guys?”
“Did you know that (insert author’s name) is a universalist?”
Using negative terms to describe another often causes fear. Out of fear of becoming like (insert negative term), the message of that person is automatically rejected without being honestly considered. These are just two examples among many. This same fear based tactic to malign is also used regarding a person’s associations. For example:
“I can’t believe you’re actually going to read that book. Did you know that (insert author’s name here) endorsed a book written by a guy who denied the authority of the scriptures?”
Obviously, the fallacy in this kind of thinking is the assumption that is made which states that a person automatically endorses every belief or position that his or her friends & associates hold to. This is truly a ridiculous assumption, but one that is quite capable of producing fear and suspicion. This is why it is common to be shunned by those in the evangelical community once you break free from their line of thinking.
3. Maligning the messenger by digging up past dirt.
If an author or messenger is really touching a nerve and exposing something significant, this tactic is almost sure to be used. Personal grievances or past mistakes of the messenger are dug up by those afflicted by fear in order to malign the character of the messenger. Although these things usually have absolutely nothing to do with the actual message being presented, bringing a personal accusation against the messenger can be an affective distraction away from the consideration of the message itself. Ironically, the very person doing the dirt digging and mud slinging almost never apply the same standard to their own lives as it would automatically disqualify them in the same way.
Maligning the messenger is common in the cut throat industry of politics, but it is also commonplace in the evangelical world as well.
- The ‘Slippery Slope’ tactic.
In addition to maligning the messenger, another fear based tactic that is used to shut down thinking is what I call the ‘slippery slope’ tactic. This tactic attempts to focus on the worst possible outcomes of the concepts being presented. The fallacy in this kind of thinking is that it ignores the possible successes found in the concepts, and focuses entirely on fear based ‘what if’ scenarios that may occur if the status quo is not maintained.
The more that I get to know the character and nature of Jesus Christ in me, the more I see how contrary His life and nature are to these fear based tactics. Fear based tactics are not rooted in the Lord’s life. They are truly Satanic in origin. In the gospels, Jesus never used these tactics to advance His message. It was the religious leaders who used these fear based tactics in their attempts to control the people and preserve the status quo religious order.
An appeal to a higher reality…
While error is a legitimate concern, the Lord did not appeal to fear to keep people from error. The religious system has no concept of this as it appeals to fear quite regularly to keep people ‘safe’ from sin and ‘heresy’. This tactic is itself an error.
Jesus appealed to the higher reality of love to set people free.
Although already condemned by the law, Jesus personally was the very expression of love that freed the woman caught in adultery from a life enslaved to sin. To the carnal church in Corinth, Paul appealed to the supernatural nature of love as their solution to the plethora of issues they were facing as a community. Consider this passage:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:1-7, ESV)
This is a description of divine love. Divine love cannot be experienced in the flesh. Divine love is internal. Christ is the personification of love that dwells within us. The solution to error & heresy is not a lower appeal to fear, but an appeal to a higher revelation of indwelling love. This is why Jesus said to beware of false teachers. He told us that we would know them by their ‘fruit’. Obviously by fruit, He was referring to joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc… These are all manifestations of indwelling love.
- Have you been affected by the disease of fear?
- Have you been guilty of appealing to fear because you are unnerved by something that is disturbing the status quo of your life?
Let’s behold the nature of Jesus Christ who dwells within. Those who have received a supernatural revelation of Jesus Christ need never to appeal ‘down‘ to fear. Rather, we have the privilege of appealing ‘up‘ to love. In the kingdom, ‘up’ is really ‘IN‘. ‘IN‘ is where the antidote resides to the deadly disease of fear.
For the cure,