After reflecting on faith and freedom, this week I have been thinking about the word ‘fear’. Another F word that seems to be lurking in the shadows of everyday life.
Scripture will tell us to fear God and that doing so is the beginning of wisdom. In other words, a healthy respect and proper understanding of our place and God’s place/our limitations and God’s power is important to making good decisions. FDR famously stated that fear is actually the only thing to fear in the face of seeking to do what is right. And in our post 9/11 world, we have warnings, alerts, and incessant polling of people about their fears.
Yet, most of us, when pressed, respond like Hunter Thompson speaking about LSD:
“That’s the trouble with acid: you can never be sure you’re hallucinating.”
The trouble with analyzing fear is that you begin to lose sight of what you’re afraid of and what you should be afraid of…because, well, fear is strikingly individualistic. While I spoke about freedom as a collective word that is truly dependent on another person, none of us need a single human being around us to be afraid.
We can fear natural disasters and we can fear heights. We can be afraid of the dark as well as snakes. We can fear personal failure and we can fear our ability to handle success. Fear seems to come from within us (because we don’t need others to feel it) and fear seems to be exposed outside of us (there’s typically something that triggers it).
Some t-shirts admonish us to have ‘No Fear,’ but frankly, that’s not all that smart. Fear teaches us to run for shelter during a hurricane and get to the hospital during severe illness. Fear can be a good thing and again, like a classic car, it usually comes standard with all types of human beings.
In our post 9/11, terrorist alert world—we are becoming worn out on ‘fear’ and it’s slowly morphing in to cynicism and perpetual stress. Yet, 365 times (one for each day of the year) the Bible says God tells human beings not to be afraid. ‘Perfect love drives out fear’ we’re told the same day we’re told that there’s a worldwide travel alert for U.S. citizens due to increased terrorist threats.
So, what do you do with the word ‘fear’ and how are you dealing with the ‘fear’ culture that is hard to avoid in our 24/7 (fear based) news cycle? How you answer this question reveals if you’re rising above or drowning in the messages that feed….fear.
we live in interesting times….and by God’s grace…these times are changing…..