Faith or Fear?
Guest speaker Skye Jethani begins Torrey Conference 2013 by charging students to open their eyes to see a world that is "perfectly safe in a God with us." | Natalie Lockard/THE CHIMES
There is always a certain amount of excitement that accompanies the opening of the Torrey Memorial Bible Conference, and it was obvious from the moment the lights first dimmed that this year would be no different.
After a humorous opening, Skye Jethani took the stage as the very first speaker for the very first session, titled “… But Now I See."
“The way we see the world precedes our impact in it," Jethani said. "What Jesus tried to do is to open the eyes of the disciples to see things differently.”
Jethani explained how Jesus, speaking to his disciples, wanted them to see a world in which it made sense for the last to be first and the first to be last. The disciples still didn’t get it, so he would rebuke them repeatedly by quoting the prophet Isaiah: "You have eyes, but still do not see."
Could the same critique be leveled against us, Jethani asked. We’re the wealthiest, most resourced Christians that have ever lived in the history of the world.
Matthew 26:47-53 was brought up as an example of what Jethani was talking about – the different reactions of Peter and Jesus to the unexpected and dangerous situation they found themselves in on the night of Jesus' arrest. Jesus even said that it was an hour in which darkness reigned.
Since coming to Biola, I have experienced many hours where darkness reigns, and have reacted to them in different ways – some right, some not. The fight-or-flight response takes hold, and I decide whether to battle against what trouble comes, or to run from it. When we feel threatened, we try to take control of the situation, either by attacking it or by fleeing so it doesn’t affect us anymore.
Jethani then claimed that religion – all human religion – is based on fear. Religion, he said, exists because this is a dangerous and threatening world. What better way to control it than to control the god or gods who control it in turn? We expect God to help us, trying to bribe him with our obedience.
When the soldiers came in that hour where darkness reigned, Peter’s reaction was one of both fight and flight. Fight as he engaged in ear-cutting, and flight when he ran afterwards. He didn’t see the world as he should have; his eyes were still blinded to the truth. The truth is simply that it’s impossible to follow the teachings of Jesus from a posture of fear.
Which world do we see, though?
A dangerous world where we’re constantly unsafe, threatened by injustice, danger and fear?
Or a world driven by love, communion and sacrifice?
It is imperative that we admit we don’t have control. The way we are given new eyes is by admitting we are blind, confessing our fear, confessing our seeking of control, and begging for his amazing grace to be shed upon us that we might be free from fear. It’s only when that happens that we can truly sing out, "I once was blind but now I see."