Followers of Christ should not be fearful people.
What is it about the gift of the Holy Spirit, life in the Kingdom, the promise of eternal life with Christ, and the deepening of God’s love would indicate that fear should be a characteristic of our current existence? Yet, so many Christians seem to live in fear and constantly have their guard up, ready to respond out of fear. This response usually manifest itself in anger, a characteristic that we are commanded not to indulge in.
Fear may be a way to protect our self and keep us safe but it also forms us in specific ways, usually in negative ways. James Bryan Smith states in the Good and Beautiful Life, “I certainly have many unmet expectations each day, but when fear is not present, anger does not arise.”
If not fear, what should be our overriding characteristic? How about love? Stanley Haurwas says, “This love that is characteristic of God’s kingdom is possible only for a forgiven people—a people who have learned not to fear one another. . . . Only when my self—my character—has been formed by God’s love, do I know I have no reason to fear the other.”
Emily P. Freeman tells the story of a decision she had to make concerning a trip to the Philippines. She was weighing all sorts of factors to help make her decision when she talked with the trip leader. The leader told her, “There may be many reasons why you shouldn’t go on this trip but don’t make fear one of them.” This changed Freeman’s entire outlook and she instead made her decision based on love rather than fear.
The only way to overcome our tendency to fear is to recognize our identity as a child of God. In that identity we know that we are forgiven, we know that we are loved, and we know that the kingdom we belong to is strong and unshakable.
Personally, I could fear all of the wayward choices our kids could make; I could fear the shaky ground my current industry seems to be in; I could fear the loss of a relationship; I could fear the hurt and disappointment that seems to be on the horizon; I could fear and blame people that I disagree with. But, all that fear just feeds things that I want no part of such as anger, prejudice, a sense of scarcity, and a desire to hurt others before they hurt me.
I have lived in fear before and largely suffered emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. I want to choose love instead.
So, if you are being formed by the love of God then fear has been pushed to the periphery of your existence. Let’s not give in to fear,“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”