• Diagnosing Anxiety

    Posted on October 14th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 5: Why Am I Afraid?

    Note: For part one of this mini-series, please visit: http://bit.ly/aHstk. For part two, please visit: http://bit.ly/20R01P. For part three, stop by: http://bit.ly/HAoxI. For part four, drop by: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF.

     

    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety. 

     

    What Is the Biblical Portrait of Phobia, Anxiety, and Fear?

     

    John tells us that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

     

    The word John uses for “fear” is “phobos.” It is used 138 times in the New Testament. Interestingly, the number one New Testament command is, “Fear not!”

     

    In a positive sense, phobos can mean reverence, awe, respect, and honor.

     

    In a negative usage, it means terror, apprehension, alarm, and arousal to flee. In Matthew 28:4, we have a word picture of phobos/phobia. When the Angel of the Lord appears, the guards fear and fall like dead men. Thus here it is used of paralysis of action.

     

    In Luke 21:26, phobos relates to uncertain expectations, terror, apprehension that fears the “What next!?”

     

    In Romans 8:15, phobos has the idea of slavish terror as Paul reminds us that we have been given a spirit of sonship, confidence, and relational acceptance, not a spirit of slavish terror about relational rejection.

     

    Fear of Ultimate Rejection

     

    John is quite specific in his portrait as he says fear has to do with punishment. Punishment means rejection, separation, condemnation—to be left as a loveless orphan, to be abandoned as a helpless child.

     

    To understand John fully, we must go back one verse. In 1 John 4:17, John says that “love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment.”

     

    Confidence is openness, frankness, boldness, assurance, concealing nothing, no hiding, no shame, no fear. It is the courage to come boldly before the throne of grace—because of grace! It is the courage to express myself freely and openly in relationship because I know there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

     

    So What Is Phobia, Fear, and Anxiety?

     

    So, how does the Bible picture and define anxiety, fear, and phobia? We might summarize it like this:

     

    “Phobia is paralyzing apprehension causing me to flee what I fear or to become paralyzed when facing my fear because I doubt my relational acceptance and security, because I doubt God’s grace. My ultimate fear is fear of rejection by God. That fear is the cause of all other fears in life.”

     

    What do I fear?

     

    “I fear God, but not in the sense of reverence and awe. I fear God’s rejection because I refuse to place faith in God’s gracious acceptance of me in Christ.”

     

    Why am I afraid?

     

    “If the God of the universe rejects me, then I’m on my own. And If I’m on my own, life is too much for me.”

     

    Making It Real

     

    Let’s make it real-life practical. Phobia/phobos/fear/anxiety makes me feel like:

     

    *“Life is unsafe. It’s too hard for me.”

     

    *”If I cry out for help, no one will respond. If I reach up to God, He won’t care because He has rejected me. He is ashamed of me and I am ashamed in His presence.”

     

    *”I won’t be protected. There’s no one who cares and no one who is in control. No one is flying this plane!”

     

    *”I am orphaned and left alone because no one cares about me. Therefore, I have to make life work on my own.”

     

    *”But I’m small, childlike, inadequate. I can’t overcome the 800-pound gorilla of life. While I  must face life alone, life is too much for me to face.”

     

    So How Do We Diagnose Fear?

     

    Phobias, fear, worries, and anxiety signify my failure to grasp and apply God’s powerful promise of gracious acceptance and protection. Fear and anxiety are caused by my refusal to accept my acceptance in Christ. If I believe Satan’s lying, condemning narrative, then I am left with no option other than trusting in myself. And I am far too small to handle life on my own.

     

    Fear becomes a vicious cycle. Fearing God’s rejection, I reject God’s help, and I end up feeling helpless to face life.

     

    The Rest of the Story: There Has to Be a Better Way

     

    There has to be a better way, don’t you think? I sure hope so!

     

    John gives us that better way when he tells us that “perfect love casts our all fear” (1 John 4:18).

     

    Join us again tomorrow when we examine biblical principles for overcoming anxiety with faith, hope, and healing love.

  • Worriers or Warriors

    Posted on October 7th, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 1: Worriers or Warriors 

    Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love?

    Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.

    God intended for us to experience a mood that is the “flip side” of anxiety. If we are to understand the “disorder” of anxiety, we must understand the “order” that sin has disordered. What normal, healthy, God-given process has become perturbed in anxiety?

    Vigilance

    Anxiety is vigilance out of control and out of context. God designed us with the mood of vigilance which is meant to move us to relationship and impact. With vigilance, God puts us in fast motion, urges us to act quickly in response to a life threat.

    Anxiety is “stuck vigilance.” Vigilance is proper, constructive concern for the well-being of others, the world, and self. Anxiety is vigilance minus faith in the Father. Vigilance results in tend and befriend behavior. Anxiety results in flight or fight behavior.

    Anxiety is vigilance that does not turn us back to trust. It leads us to a toxic scanning of our environment. God says, “Be vigilant! Be alert! Take your stand, and having done all, stand firm! Quit ye like men!”

    Anxiety says, “What if? I can’t handle this! I have to run. I have to fight. I have to self-protect!” Anxiety is scanning without standing. Instead of scanning and standing, we scan, and scan, and scan… It is continual worry. Continued “what if?” thinking and feeling.

    The Family Tree of Anxiety

    Vigilant faith, anxiety, and anger are cousins. Their family tree? Vigor, from which we gain three related words: vigilante, vigil, and vigorous. Anxiety and anger involve vigilance without faith and without love. They are non-trust, non-relational responses to threat.

    Vigilance, on the other hand, is a trust, relational response to threat. It relates to others by protecting the person being threatened. It relates to others by engaging, challenging, confronting (not attacking) the person doing the threatening. It relates to God by trusting that what He calls me to do, He equips me to fulfill.

     

    In God’s Kingdom, we are either worriers or warriors!

     

    The Rest of the Story

     

    Return tomorrow when we picture the differences between flight, fight, and faith. We’ll also explore positive and negative examples in the Bible of vigilance versus anxiety.