What Fear Does to Us

Mar 09, 2020

 

 

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day…”[1] Fear not. Jesus is born into this world for all people. There is nothing to fear now that He is here.  But, of course we don’t believe the Scriptures, we don’t believe that we can live without fear. How many of us actually get to the place where Paul was where he could endure shipwrecks and being jailed, and much more. Who of us could echo his words truthfully, “Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong?”[2]

 

We are so used to living in fear that we don’t even know that we’re afraid. And now that the coronavirus is here, our fear is even greater.  Fear makes us defensive. We project our fear out onto others and then we judge them. We believe the narratives we tell ourselves, so that we can continue to act on those false beliefs.

 

Just take what has been the result of enslaving African-Americans in our country’s history. We did not see them as full human beings, so we could harshly treat them without consequences, we thought. Now as we look back on our history with those former slaves and their descendants, we still don’t treat them as full citizens of our country. We are defensive about our past—after all we weren’t slave owners! But look what our fear and defensiveness have brought us—we’re afraid of Black Americans. We project our fear onto them. We incarcerate them for crimes that white people are not even on trial for. Our police stop the men for no reason and even kill them when then have no weapons. Here in Charlotte, for example, we have gentrified their neighborhoods—for no other reason other than someone’s greed, and pushed them farther and farther away from the center of the city. It happened in the last century and it’s happening again.

 

White flight is another way that we have shown our fear of African Americans.  As soon as one black person moves into a neighborhood, the houses there go up for sale; the main concern seems to be about property values going down with a Black family moving in.

 

When do our Black brothers and sisters become full citizens of our country? When do we treat them as brothers and sisters made in the image of God? How long will we let our fear guide our treatment of others?

 

In so many ways Jesus was teaching us not to be afraid of those who are different from us: the lame, the leper, the sick, the hated tax collector. He taught us not to be afraid of death, of the truth. “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free!”[3]

 

 

In another place and time He talked about easing our burdens and loads that we carry—fear is a big one of those burdens.[4] We don’t need to be afraid any longer, because Jesus is with us in everything that comes to us.

 

Fear also tags us with anger. If we’re afraid, then we’re often angry at what or who makes us afraid. These two emotions constitute so much of our responses to life. When we can’t see or feel the good news that Jesus brought, we are captive to these two emotions. They enslave us.  And they bring us defensiveness, judgment, greed, competition and so much more. They are the opposite of what Jesus teaches us in everything He taught. He chose not to stay with the fear he experienced at the prospect of dying on the cross, after acknowledging that He was afraid, after praying to God to take this horror from Him, He stood up and walked toward His accusers and went to His fate. Even a horrible death would not stop Him from doing what God had ordained for Him.

 

We don’t have to live in fear. We don’t have to tremble when the vicissitudes of life trouble us. We can lean on Christ and relax, we can acknowledge the fear and let it go. We can choose our response to whatever happens. We don’t have to follow what the culture says; we don’t have to listen to our own fears which were set in early childhood; and we don’t have to focus on the worst that can happen. Christ has already freed us from those burdens.

 

Live as He wished us to live, nestled in His arms; see the things that are happening in our lives from His perspective; let Him lead us out of the circumstances that would ordinarily trouble us. Then, with us so bound to Him, we are freed of all that anxiety and fear that the world offers up to us. We are free; we live in the truth about ourselves and about God; we can endure anything as long as He is at our side.

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Questions to ponder over the week: What do I fear most? And what is God telling me about that issue?  Does fear control my life? Or do I really live out my faith in God to take care of all things? Am I projecting my fear onto other people? How can I stop doing that?

 

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who trust God in everything. May we not resist what is coming into our lives. May we let go of all fear and live in peace.

 

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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 3.9.20.s is entitled, “Belief, Faith, Discipleship.”

 

[1] Luke 2:10-11

[2] 2 Corinthians 12:10

[3] John 8:31-2

[4] Matthew 11:28-30

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