Are we a culture based on fear? The more I watch the world around us, particularly in our American way of life, the more convinced I am that this is increasing.
- Every political news article promises doom and loss of liberty from one person or party or another. We are urged to vote based on what "might" happen if the wrong person is in power.
- We are told to be afraid of North Korea, the Middle East, the missile program here or the regime change there. We are told that withdrawing (or being aggressive) is what will keep us safer.
- We are told to watch out for threats to our economic well being, our kids, our freedoms, and our safety. Terrorism itself is a method of battle that wants us to live fearfully.
- We are told of threat after threat in our schools from inside and without.
- Advertisements and products promote security for our kids, safety in our cars and guarantee that eating healthy will enable a longer life.
- It has crept its way into our speech and thoughts, and we are told that we should fear different opinions or thoughts as damaging or unhealthy.
I could go on, but my point is that an increasing number of our decisions are made (or we are encouraged to make them) based on fear. Why is this the case? We long for control. We don't like uncertainty. We want to control the outcomes of our life and decisions. Every new threat can cause us to try and exert a little more control over that area of our life. The problem is that control is an illusion. We all know this intuitively, but it doesn't seem to stop us from taking every effort to try to gain that control.
When you read through the bible, one of the phrases God uses over and over in dealing with his people is "Fear not!" Don't be afraid. Jesus himself told us not to fear (or worry, which is simply a nice way of saying fear). He was not encouraging a naive view of life that ignores prudent decision making and appropriate caution. What he is telling us is that while we can never have complete control, God DOES. When we trust in him, we are giving control to the one who actually has it already and trusting that he loves us enough to do right by us,
John, one of Jesus' closest friends, wrote: "Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment." Fear is always tied to what we perceive as negative consequences. When I trust God that he really is in my corner, then I can let go of my need for control, and along with it, the worry and fear that all may not turn out as I want. Things really may not always turn out like I want, but God is orchestrating things and he is for me.
So the next time you are tempted to make a decision in fear, or feel your insides tense up or worry start to set in, be reminded that for those who follow Jesus, we can live fear free!
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