Monday, February 3, 2014

Surface and Fearful Christians

[Continued from Introspection

Taking the time to look within yourself can be tough. Sometimes it is so tough, we don't take the step to do it. In fact, we may even avoid certain topics or situations as not to trigger old feelings and memories that make us feel uncomfortable and uneasy. When this happens, it should be a clear alert that there are unresolved issues within us. While I believe there may be a period of time we need to let certain things in our life stay at rest, unresolved issues can result in many unhealthy results mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Anxiety, depression, over eating, obesity and disease are just some examples of the results of not dealing with our internal struggles, fears and flaws.

By not doing so, one can become one of two types of Christians that I have personally been at some point in my life. I am absolutely sure that there are WAY more than these two types, but these are the ones that I have experienced and seen in others around me.

Surface Christians
Surface Christians go through the motions: go to church, raise their hands in worship, listen to preaching, close their eyes when they pray, may even have a prayer life; but all-in-all they do not live to build an intimate relationship with the Lord that is deep enough to get to the root of their struggles and flaws. What is more important to them is how others see them than how God sees them. How they present them self on the surface is what's important, and so long as the outside looks good and everyone around them is convinced, they are okay.

I find that second and third generation Christians are more likely to have seasons of falling into this category, possibly because they have become complacent and salvation was "passed on" to them. [Side Note: Not that salvation is passed on in a hereditary sense. Salvation is an individual choice that a person must accept for them self, it is not necessarily inherited. I mean this to say that a second or third generation Christian may not have experienced the extreme lifestyle change that occurs when someone living a sinful, worldly life, for example, experiences when coming to Christ. They have inherited the goodness that come with generational blessings, which sometimes can be taken for granted.]  

Surface Christians are easy targets for Satan, as he keeps them in a vicious, never-ending cycle; their eyes on others' flaws and never their own. This behavior can get so bad, that it can actually become a stronghold in your life. A stronghold is a habitual action that is difficult to change because you are habitually, emotionally and spiritually tied to it. Think of the disciple Judas. The man walked, talked and ate with Christ, and was still able to betray him. On the outside, one would have thought that Judas was one of Christ's true friends. After all, he was in Christ's circle. The danger of not investing in self-care, introspection and digging up roots --all necessary in cultivating an intimate relationship with Christ -- is that like Judas, we become unsafe people who lack true integrity. We are capable of betraying Christ as well as others, and being pawns of the enemy.

Fearful Christians
Fearful Christians are those who are not perfected in love. Past hurts and traumas have affected their current perspective on what it means to love God. Maybe you trusted the Lord in something in the past and felt that he "let you down." Maybe you have trust issues based on your past relationships or your are afraid to let your friends and family know you're a Christian. Wherever your fear is rooted, it is a direct wedge between you and intimacy with anyone, especially with God.

1 John 4:18 tells us that there is no love in fear, but perfect love drives out fear. Many people might think the opposite of love is hate, but according to this verse, the opposite of love is fear. When our relationship with God is rooted in fear, it is not made perfect in love.

When we are not perfected in love, it is extremely difficult to follow God's will. In Matthew 22: 34-40, Jesus gives us the "greatest commandment" of all when a pharisee, a lawyer, asked Jesus a question to test him. He asked, "What is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus' response was love God above all and love your neighbor as yourself. The greatest commandment of all is based on love, and if we have a fear issue, we have a love issue, and if we have a love issue--- we have an obedience issue. In John 14:15 Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Fear is debilitating. It will stop us completely in our tracks if we allow it.

Allowing fear to rule our lives becomes an easy way for Satan to keep us from doing what God calls us to do. So long as we are afraid and remain afraid, it will be impossible to love God and others; and it is impossible to obey. We must get to the root of our fears, call them by name and get to the bottom of them so that we can begin to overcome them. Admitting your fears is truly the first step toward deep healing and liberation from fear.

The largest difference between Surface Christians and Fearful Christians is the motivation of the heart. Both persons are self-preserving themselves in some way. Surface Christians attempt to preserve their ego and pride while Fearful Christians attempt to prevent them self from getting hurt. Motives matter to God because God searches the heart, where the deepest part of our intentions are. The Bible tells us that we hold the things we treasure (the things that are super important to us) in our hearts. (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34)

Have you been self-preserving your pride and ego? Remember that pride comes before the fall, and it is more beneficial for you to willingly come to God with your pride than the humbling experience of a fall. Unfortunately, in order for some to learn, the humbling experience of a fall is necessary. Coming willingly to the Lord with your pride is the best way to start. Admittance is a great first step toward humility.

Is fear is dominating your relationships? Then perhaps it's time to identify each fear and begin to overcome them. The process differs from each individuals, but identifying your fear and calling it by name is a huge first step for everyone. If not, you may never be able to walk in the freedom of love, obedience and submission to God.

While self reflecting during your introspection, the motives (the why) behind the things you struggle with are important because they disclose what's truly important to you and how we can then begin to align our will and motives with God's will and His Word.

If you feel as though you fall into either category, or feel as though the introspection exercise has revealed things about yourself that you truly struggle with, that is in turn a victory. When we recognize such things, repentance is only a prayer away along with the beginning journey toward healing.


  1. Victoria,

    I can admit that I have been both! After learning more about Christ during college, I slowly fell into a dependence on myself that turned into self-righteousness. I realized though that I was so afraid of falling out of favor with God that I placed these rigid rules on myself and everyone around me. I was a Pharisee! LOL! And then fear... well as it turns out, God has equipped me with spiritual gifts but because of rooted fears - feeling like I wasn't worthy enough, etc. - I hid them for a very long time.

    To be set free, so to speak, I surrendered to God. I went on a deliverance retreat, began confiding in a core group of friends, and followed God's voice and my internal peace barometer in ways to exercise my spiritual gifts.

    I love what you said at the end. Healing is indeed a "journey" but a blessed one indeed!

    1. Wow, thank you Elise! I really love the testimony you shared because we find ourselves time and time again discovering God's grace in spite of our flaws, knowing that His goodness leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). I love how you stated that your deliverance retreat included a confession of sorts to an accountability group. That is so key! How blessed you are to have trustworthy family in Christ to cover you like that. Thank you so much for your comment. So uplifting my dear sister! <3