I've been thinking about what a fear based belief system could accomplish in the development of child & adult alike. Here are a few things I grew up believing:
-Whenever I sin, I'm in danger of hell.
Hell is just a misstep away.
-God loves me, as long as I do what's right.
-If I sin, any connection I have with God is severed, left hanging by a thread.
-My salvation is contingent on what I do for God.
Now, I have no idea how I came to believe this way, but hell was surely a constant threat in my mind. It must've really freaked me out. I'm sure the lady at the bar-b-q said something about the security of my salvation, but I honed in on the part about eternal punishment...
For many years, I could say I believed God loved me, but in my heart, I was afraid... I never thought of Him waiting to greet me one day with a lighting bolt or the back of His hand- I didn't envision an angry God. But I did see one I disappointed horribly. This God would send me to hell out of sadness. I always envisioned Him disappointed, sighing, shaking His head... biding His time till He would abandon me forever to be damned... Not b/c He wanted to, but Hes a Holy God & "them's the rules".
Over the years, I've come to believe the truth about my salvation.
-There's grace for me when I sin.
-God loved me even when I was still a sinner.
-Jesus made it possible for me to approach the throne of grace with confidence!
-I am saved by grace, not by anything I can do!
Eph. 2:1-10 2 Ti. 1:9-10
For God so loved the world... John 3:16-18
How did I miss that? Its the most widely quoted scripture of all time & I missed it. I remember memorizing it, I remember singing songs about it, but the meaning escaped me for so many years. Twenty nine of them in fact...
The repercussions of a fear based belief system are great. Its the difference between life & death, joy & despair, hope & hopelessness. I'm not blaming anyone... God has worked (& continues to work) everything out for my good. (Ro. 8:28) I no longer feel that I'm dangling over the precipice of hell by some imaginary thread. I'm saved by grace, not by anything I can do. And this grace comes from God, through Jesus Christ- as a simple gift of love.
Thanks be to God indeed.