Additional "From Further Afield" Articles


Fear And Trembling
Published: 4/6/2013 3:33:26 PM


It is a fairly common practice in Hungarian schools to have one big teacher room, instead of teachers having their own classrooms, and my school is no exception. I’ve been told that I should be thankful for the rather roomy space we have, because teacher rooms at some schools make chaos look organized. During every passing period, teachers come back to the room to gather their respective books for the next lesson and perhaps to chat a bit with those around them. We also talk after school while waiting for a meeting to start or when we have free lessons. Topics of conversation vary according to sections of the room: the man area (we have a total of eight male teachers and forty-three females), the elementary school teachers area, and the area in which random high school teachers gather to discuss hilarious or interesting things that have happened during the day (common amongst the English teachers are students’ grammar mishaps, such as "interestedest” and "sleep over at me,” not to mention random comments by students like "chicks are my passion”).

Sometimes, however, we happen upon more serious topics, which occurred this last week. After jokingly trying to convince the gym teacher that he could write off sunscreen and beer as work expenses, he turned the tables and began talking about how his students behave in gym class. Apparently, many of them don’t feel the need to push themselves, and many can’t bear to run two laps. Another colleague chimed in with the fact that she thinks students today are less likely to go through something difficult or painful in order to get results.

One of my colleagues and I continued the conversation at a volleyball practice later on in the week, and she pointed out to me that many of the older student players (in high school) didn’t seem to have a strong work ethic, while the younger ones did. We concluded that perhaps this is because of their coach. He instills in them a kind of fear, while at the same time encouraging them to do their best. They realize that he cares about them, but they know that they need to respond to his pushing. I had the same kind of coach when I was a child. Even now, I can sometimes hear her voice in my head when I play, telling me to "take out the trash” (capitalize on the other team’s mistakes), or "if you can get there with one hand, you can get there with two.” I was all but terrified of her when we first met, but I came to know her as a caring individual, and that this was just part of her way of taking care of us. My parents also instilled in me the concept of working hard for something and of overcoming difficulties to get there.

I think that our heavenly Father operates in somewhat the same way. We are told in Proverbs 9:10, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” And in Philippians 2:12-13, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Our God is an all-powerful God, and although we have the freedom to approach Him in prayer and address Him as a child addresses a Father, I don’t think we can do that lightly. There is an aspect of fear (or awe) involved, just like with a coach or a parent. Only once we have been called to belief in what God has done for us in Jesus, saving us from our sins by His death and resurrection, can we live our lives as He would want us to. (To throw around some theological terminology, we are justified and then sanctified.)

The second verse above refers to this life we live as Christian people. Certainly we can’t work out our salvation by adding works to it in order to be saved, because Jesus’s sacrifice was sufficient. We need not pollute the act of Jesus saving us by thinking we need to work hard to earn salvation or somehow make ourselves good enough. However, our lives don’t stop at being saved. The Holy Spirit continues to work in us, empowering us to live as people of God, continuing to work out what that looks like with "fear and trembling.” We learn the value of going through difficult situations and coming out on the other side. We know that God works good in every situation. We may not always see right away (or ever) what He’s doing, but we can rest knowing that He is working

God can work good in awful, sinful situations. First, through forgiveness and new life and then, in other ways as well.)

We go through times of being tested and tried, but the fact remains that we are the Lord’s and He is with us. God tells us in Zechariah 13:9 that He will "...refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, be comforted in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and as He strengthens you, live as His people.

Eros vár a mi Istenünk,

Contributed by Sarah Berta-Somogyi

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