Do Not Be Afraid

Fear appears to be a universal part of the human experience. Our fears stretch from the mundane to the profound. Fear of spiders and thunderstorms grows up into fears of failure and rejection. We’re afraid of people who are different from us. We’re afraid of things we don’t understand. We’re afraid of an uncertain future.

Some fears are understandable. Groups like ISIS in the Middle East and Boko Haram in Nigeria spread brutal violence and unsettle villages and local governments. Economic uncertainty plagues some, as they wonder what will come of their jobs and their families. Elections—in the United States and elsewhere—have been fraught with fear over who will come to power and what havoc they may wreck once they’re there. Some Christians profess fear over losing religious liberties or watching a secular culture encroach on their lives.

In scary and uncertain times, it is easy to make decisions or shape our attitudes based on fear (even if we would like to call it by another name). When these fear-based decisions and attitudes encroach on opportunities to live out faith, hope, and love, we have lost sight of something very important. Because at this point, our fear has taken us to a place beyond the realm of a reasonable sense of caution or the desire to make wise decisions. Fear has made us lose sight of the God we worship and the Savior we follow, as we begin to compromise on living as faithful disciples of Jesus for the sake of assuaging our fear. When fear compromises our discipleship, we are succumbing to a faulty view of reality. This sort of fear, which we so often see expressed, should not have a place in the Christian. 

In the Bible we read hundreds of times the command “Fear not.” Always, God’s people are told “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid of political forces that are swirling out of control. Do not be afraid of your adversaries. Do not be afraid of that which you do not understand. Do not be afraid when people speak ill of you or when injustice prevails. In fact, I cannot think of a single instance we’re instructed to fear anything—besides God himself.

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Don't Let Fear Shrivel Your Soul

Fear—how our human hearts are prone to it. We’re initiated as children with fears of the dark, of strangers, of monsters under the bed—only to continue to fears of public speaking, of people’s opinions, of money and financial stability. Our composed adult facades hide our fears of loneliness, of failure, of rejection, of the future, but inside we’re often still the small child cowering with the covers held with white knuckles over our heads.

Sadly the church is often no different. We’re afraid of being “led astray” by others’ beliefs, so we villainize and withdraw from those with different opinions and perspectives, even if they would call themselves fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re afraid of our children being corrupted, so we shelter them in Christian bubbles. We’re simultaneously afraid of losing ground in society and becoming tainted by it. We get swept up in a culture of fear in which voices rise calling us to exclude those of different beliefs or carpet bomb those we consider to be our enemies.

Why are the voices coming from the church (or those claiming to be the church) no different from those within our culture? Why are the voices of Christians rising in fear?

Fear makes our souls shrivel, drawing back faith, drying up love. This is not the way of Jesus. This is not the picture of abundant life he offers us. This is not faith.

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