A few weeks ago I found myself reading an article that briefly mentioned some of history’s most notorious criminals. Interestingly enough, I came across the name ‘Black Bart’, and was drawn to read more on him when the article stated that he was a notorious criminal, known for never using his weapons. Sounds pretty strange right? For those of you who don’t know, Black Bart was an English born outlaw who managed to strike fear in the heart of his victims. He was one of the most notorious robbers to have lived, and operated mainly around Northern California between the years of 1870-1880’s.
During this period, he spent his years robbing 29 Wells Fargo stage coaches. Perhaps what’s really interesting about him is that although he walked around armed with a shotgun, he never used it on anyone to commit his crimes – in reality he actually couldn’t. By now, you’re probably wondering how did he get the job done so well, so many times, that he made the list as one of the “most notorious criminals”. You see, Bart discovered something very powerful.
In earlier years of his life while Bart served in the war, he suffered from a serious injury that restricted him from fully using his physical strength. Therefore he couldn’t even use the weapons he was walking around with intimidating people. In other words, he was actually a weak man parading around with a false impression that he was strong. He figured if he could work on his external appearance so well and deceive people into believing he was evil, then no one would ever notice the truth about his weakness and lack of power. Quite the trick right? This trick of “fear having power” is a trick so many of us today still fall for. So today, I wanted us to take some time and have clarity on what exactly fear is and how it can be overcome.
Fear is a dangerous tool
If there is one thing that has certainly become more and more clear throughout my journey, it’s this: Fear is a dangerous tool of the enemy, but a powerless weapon for those who truly understand their identity in Christ. The repeated attempts of the enemy to strike fear in our hearts is evidence that even he understands who we are in Christ. Much like the robber Black Bart, the enemy will use fear to distract us from that reality. He (the enemy) knows that the only way we can submit to the authority of fear is if he succeeds on distracting us from the truth of who we are in Christ, and he does this by shifting our eyes to our seemingly fearful circumstances, and encouraging us to lose sight of all we are (and have gained) through Christ.
Although we allow ourselves to get carried away by the deceit of fear in our lives, God still remains faithful in proving the actual power and authority that is found in Him. There are many great examples in the bible of God proving His greater power in the midst of powerless fear.
To conclude, I call fear a powerless tool, and I do so because the only way fear can be activated enough to work on your life is if you give it the power to do so. When you lift your eyes from the truth that fear is designed to distract you from, then you will give fear all the power it needs to be fully activated. Remember Peter? Although he gathered enough faith to get out of the boat, the turbulent waves of the sea distracted him from focusing on the invitation that Jesus was giving him to continue and walk to towards Him.
The waves worked successfully in building up so much fear that the minute he lifted his eyes from the ability Christ had given him over those fears, he was consumed by those same waves that he was already given authority over. However, if you focus on the reality of the power and ability that you have through Christ (most importantly who you are THROUGH HIM) then all fear ceases to exist because He who is perfect in every way, “[..] DRIVES OUT all fear” (1 John 4:18) .
Always remind yourself that fear serves no other purpose but to distract your focus from the riches found in Christ. So as this week begins, I want to challenge you to remind yourself who you are in Him, and that by being in Him, you already have all the authority given to you to overcome your fears, for through Him you are always a conqueror (Romans 8:37).
See you next Monday!