(Fear, There is nothing to fear here, No Fear Here, Fear is in the eye of the beholder….)
- a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
- a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
- concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.
- reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.
- something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.
- anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur: Having grown up during the Great Depression, he had a constant fear of running out of money.
You know how it goes, a close relative, a spouse or child, is out late and should be on their way home while a storm is blowing in. You check your phone and there are no messages. You even try to locate them on the map and it isn’t able to find them. Then that thought comes in and you push it away. It comes back, but this time more aggressive. You entertain it just for a moment and the thought turns into images. Images that are disturbing and as your mind wanders, you expand on them even more. The thoughts and images become worry which then leads to fear. It is amazing how creative we can be in these times of the unknown. As that creativity is developing more and more scenarios about where your spouse or child or whoever is, or what has happened to them, you see the headlights turn into the driveway and all of those thoughts, images, worries and fears dissipate like steam before your eyes. Fear is one of those things in our lives that, if we feed it or give it attention, it can control us, but as soon as we shed light or truth on it, it fades away like the nothing that it is.
Fear of heights.
Fear of dying.
Fear of success or failure.
Fear of flying.
Fearing that things won’t work or turn out the way I want them to.
Fear of not being in control.
Fear of the past.
Fear of looking stupid or making a poor choice.
Fear in trusting God.
Fearing that God will fail.
How many times have we given in to a fear that then directs us to make choices that are not the best for us? Fear wants to control us, but not lead us. There is a big difference between controlling and leading. Controlling is self-motivated while leading is “other” motivated. Fear can only survive if it gets attention. It can only get attention if it can control the situation. And it can only control the situation if we allow it authority to do so. And although we know that fear does not look out for our greater good, we tend to use it as a guide in making decisions. Now one might argue that a fear of heights could save us from falling off of a cliff. Although that fear would keep you away from the edge of the cliff, it isn’t fear that is keeping you safe. Common sense, on the other hand, is what keeps you, or should keep you from getting into a situation where you would fall. But it is also the fear of heights that keeps you from going up in a perfectly safe building.
Rob had a friend in college who needed knee surgery. But he did’t want to have the surgery because he had a fear that was controlling him; He could die. Is there truth in this? Yes. There have been many people who have gone in for a routine procedure and something happened that lead to their death. But when presented with the likelihood that this would not happened based on statistics, his reply was that he had a 50/50 chance of dying. Either he would come out alive or dead. 50%! Black or white. All or nothing. Another friend would roll her window partway down every time she would travel over a bridge that crossed a river because, if by chance, the bridge collapsed or they drove off of the bridge, she had learned that you wouldn’t be able to roll down your window or open your car door if that car was under water. There is a whole list of fears, or phobias, that people have on different levels. Fear of thunder and lightning, fear of flying, fear of sharks, fear of being sucked down the shower drain, fear of having too many fears, etc. etc.
Fear leads us to decisions that we later regret. How many stories are there of girls, who wanted to save sex for marriage, gave into having sex because of the fear of losing their boyfriend? Is it true that he would leave her if she didn’t give in? Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes. But instead of looking at that in full truth of revealing the boyfriend’s lack of real love for her, she is more focused on the hurt of him leaving, even though that would ultimately be the best thing for her. Many guys have given into sex, too, for fear of not being thought of as cool by the other guys. Isn’t it interesting that the fear of what other’s thought of them drove them more than the fear, or understanding, of potential STD’s that would cause harm to their own bodies? Think about that for a moment. The fear of man has more impact than the potential to harm your own body.
So what is fear, or being afraid? What is the source of that fear? Who wants us to be afraid.
John writes, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” – 1 John 4:18. Paul tells us, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” – 2 Corinthians 5:11. When John is talking about love, he is using the term “agape” for selfless love or a giving love instead of “eros” which is a selfish or taking love. But when John writes about fear that is cast out by this selfless love, he uses the same word that Paul uses in describing the fear of the Lord. Paul isn’t saying that we are afraid of the Lord and therefore must persuade others. What he is saying is, because we have that understanding of the consistency of the Lord, we should tell others who they are in Christ as well in order for them to also live in obedience with understanding. Paul continues later on, “For the love of Christ controls us.”
Fear comes in two parts. One is the understanding of the consequence of an action. You sign a paper at work stating that you understand the consequences if you break certain rules. The second is the worry or being anxious about those consequences. On the way to work, the stop light seems to take extra long and you are just so sure it will make you late and you will lose your job even though you left 15 minutes early and you have never been late before and it is your day off. Based on which part is the driving force, there are two different types of fear that we need to discuss.
First is the fear that we have been talking about, the kind that tries to control us for it’s benefit and not our own. This is the fear that has lead to the acronym, False Evidence Appearing Real. It is based on a false belief, a lie, or something that is not founded completely on truth. There may be some truth mixed in to the fear, like the consequence of falling hundreds of feet could lead to a fear of heights, but the whole of the fear is false. It is inconsistent and deceiving. This fear has a basis in the understanding of the consequences, but is overshadowed by the over abundance and disproportionate worry of the consequence. Second, there is the fear that we use when we talk about fearing the Lord. This is based on truth. This truth is consistent, never changing, and only comes from the Lord Himself. The knowledge of the consequence of an action is all that drives our actions and worry isn’t brought into the equation.
For instance, when it comes to riding a bike on the road, the fear of getting hit by a car is always present. If the understanding part of fear is the driving force, then you will be more aware, focused, and ride in a safe manner. If it is the worry part of fear that drives, then you will more than likely not go for a ride in the first place. Jenna had broken her foot and after months of it not healing, she finally had surgery to pin the broken bone. Before the surgery, they gave her a device for her opposite leg that would compress and then release her lower leg in order to prevent blood clots. Blood clots after surgery, especially when you have to be sedentary, are very possible. The knowledge or understanding of this moves us to make sure to follow the instructions as much as we can. If we started to worry about it, then every little thing that might possibly lead to a symptom would cause us to get anxious, call the doctor’s office every 5 mins, or not be able to sleep. It might even cause us to choose to not do the surgery. Fear can lead you astray or guide you forward with focus.
How does the fear of the Lord fit in? This brings us back to the basics. Simple faith. Honestly trusting the He is God and that He really does love you. It’s not just for other people. It’s for you. Yes. You! Right now. Specifically. To believe. To test and try. To grow in faith and hope and love and peace. It is real. God is real. And so is fear. So we must battle it. Remember, the thought of feeding the flesh or feeding the spirit. Whoever gets fed the most gets stronger. Always.
Proverbs tell us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and also that it is the beginning of wisdom. John tells us rightly that God is love. Since God is love and love casts out fear, then if we accept the love of God and love God back in the same way through our obedience, then there is no need for fear of punishment. We will still have the reverence for God and the knowledge of His consistency in discipline. Because love has moved us to obedience, we don’t have the “worry” part of the fear of punishment. We have the understanding, the knowledge, the wisdom of the fear of the Lord, and there is no need, nor room, for the worry. The writer of Hebrews reminds us in chapter 12 of this understanding of the Lord’s discipline without having the worry as he quotes Proverbs 3, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him.”
A month of fear. Recognizing it. Conquering it. Refusing to let it control us. Do we fear? Yes. Do we all experience some kind of fear? Yes.
This month we are dedicating the whole month to this theme of fear. Both Jenna and Rob will be writing more about fears they have experienced and how their choices, based on those fears, caused them to go down unwanted paths. Even today, those old fears like to make an appearance, creep in and try to cause distraction and divert our faith focus. We will also show how the love of Christ overcame those fears in reconciliation and restoration.
When have you allowed fear to direct you instead of letting the understanding of the situation guide you? What areas of your life have you seen love overcome fear? Please share with us!
Do you need encouragement to believe? Do you have a situation where you can’t see past the immediate circumstances and fear tells you it’s all going to be bad?? Let us know! We’d love to encourage you and to pray for you.
Do not fear. The God of peace is with you.