An article in the Daily Mail on changes taking place at Canterbury Cathedral in London, England speaks of a significant culture shock coming for western Christians.
For years, we have lived in a bubble where we could go through our day not worrying we would be attacked for our faith. But that bubble is bursting or at the very least there is a noticeable leak.
Police in England have just announced they will be stationing armed guards at Canterbury Cathedral in England. Built in 597AD, it is one of Britain’s oldest churches. This is not the church hiring its own security staff, but rather police sending in protection.
And in a country where police typically patrol without guns, these guards are armed. The article added that protection will be given to other unnamed churches and public venus.
The police made this decision in response to recent attacks on churches in Europe by Muslim extremists. In July, an 84-year-old Catholic priest in Normandy, France had his throat slit by Islamic extremists in front of his congregation during a Sunday morning service.
And in mid September, police arrested three women plotting a terrorist attack on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after finding a car full of explosives.
On top of this a recent poll by the European Jewish Association and the Rabbinical Center for Europe determined things are not much different for Jews.
According to an online poll conducted of European Jews, 70% reported that they would not be attending upcoming synagogue services celebrating Yon Kippur or Rosh Hashana due to concerns of terrorist attacks.
It reflects changing times. Western Christians who are not used to relying on God for security and protection will need to adjust their thinking and prayers.
In his description of the end-times, Jesus describes a stifling fear that will grip men:
25 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of [c]the heavens will be shaken. (Luke 21:25-26 NASV)
Men will faint from the fear. But there is more to it than that. The Greek word for fear “apopsychonton” literally means to “stop breathing.” The word also describes death, which is how some Bible versions translate it.
People will be dying from their fear not from what is happening but rather of the “expectation” (lit foreboding) of what is coming. Studies have shown under certain circumstances that Adrenalin released into the body by fear and stress can actually damage the heart.
With the increasing reports of random terrorist attacks, a ‘spirit of fear’ is slowly enveloping the West (2 Timothy 1:7).
As believers we need to come to grip with our fears now, before it gets out of control. In the Psalms, David called on God, not to be delivered from his enemies, but to be delivered from his fears:
I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4 NASV)
God does not want us controlled by fear. Jesus explained one of the keys to handling fear is believing and accepting our eternal destiny.
28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 NASV)
During World War II, nearly half of the bomber crews flying over Germany died. The death rate was horrific. Only 10% of the crews who started the war were alive when it ended.
How did these men deal with their fears? Before going out on particularly dangerous sorties, they were told to accept they were already dead before heading out in their bombers.
As Christians we need to stare down death. The Apostle Paul — who according to the ancient historian Eusebius was decapitated by the Roman Emperor Nero after the great fire of Rome — did not fear of death. The apostle wrote, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:55).
Then we need to pray to the Holy Spirit to give us His gift of courage:
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKV)