Fear Is A Powerful Force
Fear is a powerful force. It can be motivating, paralyzing, life-altering, and deceptive. Fear can be sneaky, too: it has a way of maneuvering its forces into my life and rearing its head before I am even aware of its presence. Most often, fear feels like an enemy to me.
Frequently the narratives in the world try to make me afraid. They tell me to fear people that are different than me — to fear people that think differently, speak differently, and live differently. Ultimately, I think if I listened to these narratives, I would safely stay in my basement, staring at my glowing screens, fearing (and avoiding) anyone and anything that is different. Fear and hate seem to be good bedfellows.
Yet fear at times can also be a friend. A healthy fear can provide necessary boundaries. Fear can serve as a warningagainst danger and as a guiding light towards peace. Fear can remind me why doing something destructive is a terrible idea. Fear keeps my kids from running into the street when cars drive by. Fear can, strangely, be a friend at times.
In the chaos of our world, how are we to know which side of the fear-coin is motivating us? How do we ignore the unhealthy, paralyzing fear and yet honor the healthy fear that provides good boundaries?
We are told in 1 John 4:18
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”
When I am struggling with fear, I frequently turn to 1 John 4:18. If I find myself isolating others, insulting others, and leaving others without hope, then I know that unhealthy fear, and not love, is driving my behaviors.
Importantly, people that were different never created paralyzing fear in the life of Jesus. Jesus was motivated to love people across all spectrums of life, even among those that others feared. Ultimately, Jesus sacrificially loved others so that unhealthy fear could be driven away for good.
As we choose to follow Jesus’ example, we see that love brings us out of our basements, helps us put the glowing screens down, and helps us form relationships with those that act, think, and live differently. It seems to me that unhealthy fear is best overcome with love and in relationships.
What side of the fear-coin is currently motivating you?
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7