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Napoleon once said, "I feel myself driven forward by a force I do not know. While it is with me, nothing can stand against me. If it deserts me, I can be destroyed by a feather." This is a realistic structure of fear and hope.
Realistic hope and fear are important. But what we are going to talk about today is the structure of fear. Now some people say you should not live in fear. Yet fear is an extremely constructive emotion. In other words, it is important to fear the consequences of jumping off a 20 story building. It's important to fear that because if you do that, you're going to kill yourself. It's also important to fear the consequences of leaping in front of a fast moving car.
So fear is a very logical and intelligent emotion. The question is, What is the structure of fear in your life? Now we're going to talk about the concept of the larger reality. Let's phrase it like this, there's the basic realities of life: you want to get enough food, you want to make enough money and so on. These are legitimate priorities, but then there's the larger structure of reality. There's the reality of God. In Islam He is refered to as Allah. And there is a structure of reality in which people have a purpose. This structure also exists in Hinduism, with the concept of Dharma, purpose and Karma of how you in your life do or do not move forward in terms of fulfilling your purpose.
Frederick the Great once said that soldiers should fear their commanding officers more than the enemy. Stalin once said it is more dangerous to desert the Red Army than it is to serve in it. Now when you look at the structure of fear, you have to analyze two things. One is your fear of what stands in front of you ….social embarrassment, the loss of a relationship, loss of a job, political persecution and potential torture and death depending on where you live. These are concerns. However you need to step back and be aware of the larger reality, the larger reality is the terror that stands behind you. Yes, because if you have committed your life to a higher power and you are expected to carry out missions, you could face retribution from the most terrifying person who exists, the living God, for failing to carry out your mission. That's an important point to keep in mind.
In making decisions, you need to filter out a lot of confused ideas from American life. In American life, you have what you might call the trivialization of sin. Sin is considered to be irresponsible sexual behavior, sin is too much drinking and so on and so forth. There's no doubt about it that these are negative forms of activity. But the larger issue in our opinion is the decisions that you make in terms of policy decisions, in terms of say whether you do or do not stand up to the government that is ruling you. You have to look at the Old Testament prophets. There are lessons to be learned where a person raises their hand and agrees to serve God. So it all sounds great, except God one day and says, "I want you to go to your king and tell him he needs to change his ways." Now that could be pretty much of a suicide mission in the world that those people lived in. That could be a death sentence. That could be a trip to a torture chamber, so it puts prophets in a very tough position. They can "play it safe" in terms of the smaller view of reality. They could say "that's a suicide mission," or "no thank you." But here's the problem. If you have raised your hand and told the living God that you're going to go do something, you are facing some real problems if you do not carry out your mission. God can cause your life to go completely haywire. God can inflict upon you every nightmare that you feared as a result of carrying out your mission and by playing it safe and not carrying out your mission. So that point needs to be understood.
In the Bible there is an instance where God commands a prophet to go to a king and tell him to change his ways and then God says, "If you go and tell him to change his ways and he does not change his ways, his guilt will be on him and the bloodshed that he causes will be on him, but if you don't go, I will call you to be responsible for his sins."
So this is a very important point so in making decisions. You need to be aware of the structure of fear, and as we mentioned in another lecture, you need to fine tune your decision making ability. The truth is not just lying around waiting to be spoonfed to you. Your life is like a radio receptor It has to be lived in a certain way in order to pick up a clear signal. In other words, if you have a radio and you drop it in the bathtub and do all sorts of stupid things, it's probably not going to work very well. The same is true with life. If you lead a immoral life, your ability to perceive things will be dull. Now again, we need to move beyond what I call the trivialization of morality. It isn't just lifestyle, an immoral life may mean to become obsessed with your commercial job, that you want to get ahead, that you want that corner office, you want to buy that Mercedes, and you are obsessed with that. That can be just as much of a poison in some ways, even more of a poison than an addiction to destructive sexual behavior or addiction to destructive chemicals such as alcohol. So you need to keep that in mind.
This all may sound very scary, but there is hope as well. Realistic hope in addition to realistic fear. As you look forward, you need to think about the power behind you as well as the threats in front of you. It goes both ways that the threats in front of you may be horrendous, but the power behind you is ultimately greater than those threats. Miracles can happen. We're not here to make any guarantees about your life. But there's a greater chance that God will strenghten you if you are fulfilling his purpose rather than if you aren't.
In many religions there is a concept of noble sacrifice. In Islam there is the concept of the martyr or the shaheed. You may be called in your life to make a great sacrifice, face great challenges or great risks.
I would conclude by using the analogy of an army. Suppose somebody was organizing an army and they said, "Everybody who joins the army will be safe. Nobody be will be wounded. Nobody will be killed. Everybody will lead a life of ease and comfort and we'll have lots of money and lots of sex." Do you think that would be a credible proposition? No, it would not be. In life, in the service of the Almighty, you are serving in an army. That's the way to look at it and there is a promise in the Quran and in other great religions that what you do will be rewarded at Judgment Day, and before the judgment day the hand of the Almighty is at work every day he has a plan. There's a concept that everyone can do something important, even if they are not wealthy or powerful. Or that everyone should at least try.
Who do you want to team up with? The being running everything? Who would you team up with other than that? And whatever happens insofar as maybe you become a martyr, it's not at all clear that you could avoid that by playing it safe. God has a plan for every second of the day.
There is also the reality that God can empower you in this life and make you more powerful than you ever dreamed if you are serving Him. There is peace in knowing that the Almighty is on your side. However, it will not necessarily be easy.
"Did you really believe that you would enter paradise before God tested your commitment to fight for him and to endure suffering with fortitude? God loves the steadfast." (Quran quote 3:142)
In the end …if you do the best can….. you will be rewarded beyond anything you could ever imagine at judgment day. That's the larger reality.