No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.
–J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings
We live in a world of explosions. Bombs, guns, and–this week in Jakarta–grenades. Somehow when the smoke clears we can forget how shattered the world is, that the shadow of darkness overhangs all of it: then something like this happens again.
We don’t live near Jakarta, which is on one end of this island. There are more than 300 miles and probably about 90 million people between there and here. But when news of the bombings began an email chimed in from my oldest daughter’s school about measures of heightened security. And I was reminded all over again of the most menacing weapon of the enemy: fear.
The blood-spilling spree going on in our world today is nothing less than the tactic of God’s enemy to paralyze God’s people with fear. What is occurring in Iraq and Syria, in Nigeria and Kenya, in North Africa, in Afghanistan and many other places is terrifying. Terror would want us all to pack up and go home, find a safe place to hide, and leave the field to the bad guys.
One of my son’s favorite songs goes “I may never march in the infantry, ride in the calvary, shoot the artillery. I may never fly over the enemy but I’m in the Lord’s Army. . . ” We are an army. Thus the enemy’s tactic of fear. An army terrified is an army dismantled, it doesn’t matter how large the force. Consider the deadly panic of the huge forces of Midian in Judges 7–Gideon’s army was only 300 men. But the Midianites thought they were surrounded. (Interestingly, God sent the scared guys home first when he needed to shrink Gideon’s army to prove his mighty name: “Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained . . .” (v. 3).)
There’s a twitter tag circulating in Indonesia in the aftermath of Thursday. #kamitidaktakut: We are not afraid. Maybe it’s bravado. Maybe it’s true. But it would make a great banner for you and for me in the days ahead. Our church is about to begin a study of the book of Joshua and I was reminded what God says to Joshua before he leads the people into the land of promise: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). With this promise, we the Church can say unflinchingly “kami tidak takut.” As Spurgeon said of God’s promises: “Never let the promise rust. Draw the word of promise out of its scabbard, and use it with holy violence.”