We live in fear-riddled times. Think about it. So many things that we do are based in, on and around fear. So how should we deal with fear? What is the Biblical response, as opposed to the culturally acceptable one?
How many newscasts are filled with the latest crime reports, warnings of product recalls, and the doom and gloom of bank failures and stock market fluctuations?
We live in fear about the price of gas or whether gas will even be available to buy. Who is going to be elected president? Will the terrorists win the war that we’re waging against them? It goes on and on.
Those are just the general cultural fears evident in mass media. How about personal fears? Will you be able to put food on the table for your family tonight? Will your kids be safe at school today? Will you get hit in your car on the way to work?
Fill in the blanks. We’re often gripped by fear. Frozen into inaction.
So how should we deal with fear? What is the Biblical response, as opposed to the culturally acceptable one?
Some Christians react in panic or alarm to the fallen world. There are those who would rather isolate themselves from our increasingly perverse society. Others try to fight back: Their reflex is to call for a ban or a boycott any time a corporation or a new record threatens to disrupt the protective bubble they have formed around themselves and their families.
Is this truly how God would have us interact with a broken world?
Such reactions are understandable. As Christians we feel like we have to stand for what is right. We feel that we have to be witnesses for Jesus and testify to what is good and pure. Fighting the evils of society is what a good Christian does.
While we are called to proclaim truth and share the good news of the Gospel, merely being reactionary against the times out of fear gives a different message to the world at large.
Here is what that sort of response and posture communicates to people unfamiliar with following Jesus: “Having a Savior is no different from not having one. Christians are just as fearful as everyone else. If they panic at every turn, how does trusting in Jesus do anything to change your life and your way of living?”
The Call of Love
Without being overly simplistic, the call of a Christian is fairly clear: To love God and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). Even the Great Commission is very straightforward: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthews 28:19-20).
If that is our calling as believers, then why do we allow ourselves to get bogged down in fear? From one perspective, our faith allows our outlook on life to transcend the temporal cares of this world. As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Nothing that we encounter comes as surprise to God.
This is not to suggest that we should live our lives disconnected from those around us. Quite the opposite: just as Jesus ministered to the physical needs of those He encountered, we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). We are “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).
However our aid to those in need can go deeper by offering a hope and security that is divine. Our lack of fear doesn’t come from being out of touch with the world, but being supernaturally connected to the one who holds this world in His hands:
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all–how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is He that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).
There truly is no need for fear for those who follow God. Buildings and empires may rise and fall, but He remains sovereign. We are more than conquerors. Rather than living in doubt and worry, we can approach life with a new boldness, one that arises out of love for our neighbors who have yet to encounter Jesus.