REM's classic Losing My Religion is a pretty fascinating song:
"That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight, losing my religion."
Ben Gibbard wrote the song Follow You Into The Dark with his band Death Cab For Cutie. In the song he speaks of an experience under the discipline of a Catholic nun:
"In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black
And I held my tongue as she told me,
Son, fear is the heart of love, so I never went back"
That's Ben in the corner, that's Ben in the spotlight, losing his religion.
The funny thing about religion is that we can lose one religion but another one will always replace it. That is a fact of human existence.
The funny thing about religion is that we can lose one religion but another one will always replace it.
Fear, of course, is not the heart of love. Love, in fact, drives out fear in all it's forms, just like light drives out darkness.
1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."
Fear is associated with punishment, not love. In this case, Ben was exposed to some bad theology that turned him away from the truth, but it didn't turn him from religion, it never does; it simply turned him to another religion.
So what then is this relationship we have with fear? It seems to hang around like some stubborn disease. We manage the symptoms but we don't seem to be able to truly get rid of it; and we never really know when it will reoccur, with a vengeance.
Fear is a necessary component for life. The truly fearless are not courageous or brave; they are utterly mad. The courageous are those who act in spite of fear. Those who act without fear are insane.
Fear keeps us alive; and fear makes us wise. Specifically, The fear of God is what leads us into a right relationship with Him:
Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight."
This fear is not the fear of God's power wielded indiscriminately. It's a fear that God's power is righteous and specific; that all our hidden secrets are one day to be judged by one who is meticulous, righteous, absolutely just and all powerful.
There is no way for the Good News of scripture to truly be good news until one faces the facts of the bad news of one's life and actions. Until we measure our moral stature against that of God's the Bible has no gospel for us.
But this is where it get's interesting. If we can somehow muster up the courage to examine God, as close as we dare, despite the fear (or maybe because of it) we find two things. Firstly that He is everything that we feared: He is just, powerful, meticulous, all-knowing, and righteous. But he is also overflowing in love for us, and that love is perfect; and it casts out all of our fear like we cast out the trash. The usefulness of fear, undeniable as it was, evaporates with the fear itself under the smiling eyes of God. Fear is not the heart of love, it never was.
The usefulness of fear, undeniable as it was, evaporates with the fear itself under the smiling eyes of God.
As we get closer to Him we begin to lose our connection with the religion of fear. As we get closer to Him, the full reach of His Power, and His meticulous, righteous justice are seen more and more clearly; measured out on the shoulders of Christ. His will to love us is amplified in His actions.
That's us in the corner, that's us in the spotlight losing our religion in order to gain something we cannot lose. The perfect love of God.