April 14th – The Three Cosmic Fears

A German philosopher, Paul Tillich, once summarised his view of history as the battle to overcome three cosmic fears.He said there was the fear of Death, and went on to show how the ancient world was tyrannised by its terror of death; obsessed by it in fact.They built their vast pyramids to it,made their death boats, looked to their happy hunting grounds.Why the ancient Chinese made a religion out of their dead ancestors.Everywhere death ruled, and men cowered before it.
This first great fear was defeated by the Christian gospel of the resurrection. Jesus is alive. He has conquered death.Gradually men and women began to see death as a door to something else. it was not the end.
That led to the second great fear, the fear of being Guilty. This age began as people pondered the implications of hell and heaven.The doctrine of purgatory occurred during this era.Dante wrote his world-shaking trilogy of Il Paradisio, Il Pergatorio as well as The Inferno.All the art of this era was centred on what came after death-the medieval church became a market place selling indulgences, pardons for the dead; and that practice was crushed by the preaching of the Reformation.We are put right with God by FAITH in Christ in alone.Good and bad deeds are not the agenda of heaven or hell.To be in Christ alone is salvation.Gradually people began to lose their crushing sense of sin and guilt with the preaching of free forgiveness obtained by Christ crucified and risen. Tillich continued.
Gradually, in turn, the third era dawned, with the dread fear, ‘that life has no meaning’. ‘History is a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing’. Yes, Shakespeare is part of our modern era and all the fashions and philosophies of this era grapple with the meaninglessness of life.The structures have gone, there’s no real point to it all.Some of us believe that as the preaching the Resurrection destroyed the fear of death, and the preaching of the Cross and Resurrection the fear of guilt and sin, so the fear of meaninglessness will only be mastered by the preaching of Incarnation:The Life of Christ.
“This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God:Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” 1st Letter of John 4: 2-3

A Prayer:
We come to you Lord Jesus, for you know us through and through, for you have been tempted and have overcome.

Now read the First Letter of John Ch.1.

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