Screwtape Letters 7 Fear

C.S. Lewis

(Jack)

Born late 19th century. - Belfast, Ireland

At 15, he loses his faith and pronounces his commitment to atheism and the occult. B/C of that influence, He eventually returns to Christianity.

Considered - one of - most influential writers of the 20th century.

Writes Books:

  • Chronicles of Narnia - Lion, Witch, wardrobe,
  • Mere Christianity

The Screwtape Letters

Collection of Letters

3 characters

All you need to know is 3 characters.

Screwtape The uncle - Senior demon. - Highly experienced and extremely successful demon. - The author of all the letters. 'Our father below' - Satan. 'Our enemy above' - God.

Wormwood Screwtape's nephew. - Demon who's new to the job and doesn't really know how to tempt his human yet.

The Patient The recently converted human who is the subject of the book. Wormwood (the nephew) is assigned the patient to reclaim back from the camp of the enemy (God).


Also, of course, not everyone believes in a literal satan & demons. I personally do. But don't get caught up on that. As you'll see, that's not actually what the book is about. - Traps that we so easily fall into.

Thus far: We've followed patient:

  • Becomes a Christian
  • Goes to Church
  • Goes to War
  • Falls in Love
  • Doubts
  • Prays

This week:

The Patient is afraid

Seems there's no end to screwtape's frustration with his nephew.

I sometimes wonder whether you think you have been sent into the world for your own amusement.

This has been a disaster. All you've accomplished to produce thus far is a burst of ill temper with a dog that he tripped over, some excessive cigarette smoking, and the forgetting of a prayer.

What is the use of whining to me about your difficulties? I am not sure that a charge of heresy does not lie against you.

Regardless, you will soon find that the justice of Hell is very real, and we're only concerned with results. Bring us back food, or be food yourself.

We now know that the Germans will bomb your patient's town and that his military service will keep him in the thick of the danger.

Wonderful hatred will emerge. Let him say that he feels hatred not on his own behalf but for the sake of the women and children,

and that a Christian is told to forgive his own enemies, not necessarily other people's enemies.

In other words let him consider himself so invested in the women and children that he feels hatred on their behalf,

but doesn't recognize their enemies as his own and therefore, will feel no need to forgive them.

Hatred is best combined with Fear. The more he fears, the more he will hate.

This is probably why the Enemy's made such a dangerous world. A world where moral issues are able to surface.

He sees that courage is not simply a virtue, but every virtue at it's testing point.

Love or honesty, or mercy, which collapses in the presence of danger only works in certain conditions. And is no danger to us.

Even Pontius Pilate was merciful till it became risky.

Remember, the act of cowardice is all that matters; the emotion of fear is, in itself, no sin and, though we enjoy it, does us no good,


Fear No Evil

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (Psalm 23:1)

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, (Psalm 23:2)

he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

I'm not good at everything, but I'm very good at fear.


Culture of fear

9/11 - Terrorism

Article: America the Anxious - Said the level of ‘general anxiety among average americans’ hasn’t been this high since the cuban missile crisis in 1962.

Always something to be afraid of.

Obsessed w/ security

Quote: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

German Lutheran Pastor

  • He said this in pre-war germany. It was headed towards war.
  • Widely considered one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century.
  • Ended up dying at the hands of the nazi's.
  • He's stripped naked and hanged for anti hitler propaganda.

Peace is confused with safety. There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security.

Obsession with security is a type of fear. Picture a guy with 12 deadbolts on their door, thinking just one more will make them safer.


Fear & Faith - same thing

In bible - both described as ‘spirits’. The bible often uses that word ‘spirit’ is what we would describe as an attitude.

You can have a faith-based spirituality or a fear-based spirituality.

You can have a faith-based spirituality or a fear-based spirituality. - On - surface - hard - tell. On the surface, can be hard to tell the difference.

A lot that goes by the name faith is actually fear. No one would ever say “Yes I have a fear based spirituality.” They’re unaware of it.


True Christianity is a faith, but there are distortions of it that can only be properly described as a fear.

“Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” Christianity

Primary view - hostile deity looking for the first opportunity to find fault. Jesus is coming and he’s mad as heck! “Stay as far away from the world as possible!” Christianity Where everything in the world is dark and bad.

Apostles The apostles tried this when Jesus died. They were and locked themselves into the upper room. Till Jesus came and said "I'm sending you out." Hiding in the upper room isn't a faith, that's a fear.

“We are God’s people. And we kill all who oppose us, with God on our side” Christianity

A theme w/Jesus - people who thought they were in, were the people who were really out. And the people who thought they were out, were really the ones who were in.

When we allow ourselves to become the holy club and everyone else is the enemy, we follow the way of the misguided jews who thought the messiah was going to come in and kill their enemies instead of teaching us to love.


Parenting

I'm not a parent. I don't know a lot about parenting. But I do know a lot about people leaving the faith.

I see parents raising their kids in fear based Christianity. They honestly think it's faith. But it's not, it's fear. Try to shape their children according to their own fears.

When the kids grow up, and they don't sympathize with their parents fear. And because they've grown up in a system where fear is confused with faith, they decide, because they don't share the fears of their parents, that they have no choice but to leave the faith. But really what they're leaving isn't the faith, they're leaving their parents fear.

I've talked in here about the 2nd journey that many many Christians go through. Where they end up discovereding the faith and that it looks different than they had previously thought.


The world is feeding you a constant diet of things to be afraid of.

  • Terrorism
  • Crime
  • Nuclear Bombs
  • Financial Collapse
  • Politics of the left or right.

If you're not deliberate, you will be a person who is controlled by fear.


Fearful people : easily manipulated & controlled.

They’re easy to herd.

Don’t think clearly.

Fearful people make bad decisions.

People think they’re being smart, what they’re really being is scared. We need wisdom, but we’re only positioned to hear the wisdom of God when we have a peaceable soul. Example: Someone afraid of never getting married.


Fear mongers (media)

Various themes: Terrorism - Crime - Financial collapse - Politics of the left, or right.

They want something from you.

Your money - Your vote - Your allegence

They’ll tell you about the eminent financial collapse, then they want to sell you some gold. I have no idea about that stuff.

But I do know when people are trying to manipulate me with fear. What they mostly want is power. Advertisers do it - Politicians do it - Preachers do it - Governments do it.

But it’s not from God.

God has not given us a spirit of fear.


Seeking inner peace through earthly safety is something the OT prophets consistently rejected.

Israel was supposed to be the people of God, who get their security from God.

And when Israel would stop doing that, these prophets would show up and correct them.

Ex: the prophets rebuke Israel for putting their trust in Kings and princes.

Israel was never supposed to have a king. God wanted to be their king.

Ex: Prophets - rebuked - Israel - putting - trust : Chariots & horses.

IE: Military.

Even see it in Psalms:

“Some trust in chariots, and some trust in horses, but we will put our trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Ex: the prophets rebuked Israel for putting their trust in political alliances.

You can see this esp in Jeremiah.

Israel was threatened by babylon, and asyria, so they wanted to go have a political alliance with Egypt.

Jeremiah says “I thought you were gonna trust God. Put your trust in him.” Jeremiah says “That’s a broken reed and it cannot save you.”

Has anything changed?

Do we trust God more than they did? B/C we’re supposed to.

How many in here could honestly say that we trust God more than who the president is, and what the military is doing, and what our alliances are?

We say that we’re people of faith, but only when we have no other options do we actually put our faith in God.

We prefer to get our security from all these other systems.

That’s fear.

Jesus comes and offers us a different way of living.

Where our source of peace is not earthly. And our primary motivation is not avoiding danger.

You might say “Well, easy for Jesus to say. He didn’t have ISIS!” And the assumption is that Jesus lived in a safer time than we did. Which is of course crazy.

WWJD? People keep asking “What would Jesus do is dangerous times like this?” We don’t have to say what WOULD he do. He lived in a way more dangerous time that we do, so we can simply ask “What DID Jesus do.” And do that.

Bible: Outrageous claim :

"Fear no evil."

When Jesus’s disciples were afraid his response was always the same ‘Why are you afraid? Oh you of little faith.”

Faith is a NT word, OT word is ‘Trust’.

Jesus says that the fear in his disciples was a lack of trust in God.


Solution:

Spend : More time with Jesus and Less time with the fear-mongers of the world.

We believe that which we consistently listen to.

Determine in your heart that you won't respond in fear.

Emotions rise up in all of us. But they don't have to control us.

For remember, the act of cowardice is all that matters; the emotion of fear is, in itself, no sin and, though we enjoy it, does us no good,

Cowardly acts and cowardly words are what really do us in.


Important: The churches response in perilous times shapes our reputation.

Are we people who actually believe what Jesus said and are committed to him? Even if the world calls us foolish and weak?

I honestly believe that this is one of those times in history where the church is at a crossroads.

Will we respond in faith or will be respond in fear?

(Video) - Brian Zahnd - Prophesy - American church

Prediction, forecast - inspired by God.

Last week

I edited

Communion

Ask yourself: Have I allowed myself to be motivated by fear?

And in what ways do I need to put my trust BACK in Jesus?

(Pass)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, (Psalm 46:2)

though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:3)

The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:7)

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. (Psalm 46:9)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:11)

Therefore, Jesus
We remember your death,
We proclaim your resurrection,
We await your return.