One of the best kept secrets of the Christian tradition needs to be let out.
So, here goes: one of the loudest messages in our scriptures and tradition is that we shouldn’t be afraid.
Seriously. “Fear not,” or some variation, pops up again and again in the Bible.
Go check it out, really.
There are gems like this:
Don’t fear, because I am with you;don’t be afraid, for I am your God.I will strengthen you,I will surely help you;I will hold youwith my righteous strong hand.(Isaiah 41v10, CEB)
And this, from the announcement of Jesus’ birth:
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. (Luke 2v10, CEB)
And, my personal favorite:
God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them…There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. (1 John 4v16 & 18, CEB)
These are just a few examples of so many moments where we are reminded that fear is not to be the defining narrator of our story. Yet, in our world today it seems that fear’s voice is the loudest. It’s channeled through politicians, news outlets, religious leaders, and people you bump into at the grocery store. They are telling us who to be afraid of: people of other religions, sexual orientations, or political beliefs (just to name a few).
Fear them, the voices say.
Be suspicious, they warn.
Everyone is out to get you, they whisper.
But fear isn’t the defining voice for people of faith, and perhaps we should ask the question “why.” Why do they want us to be so afraid?
When someone peddles in fear, when they try to manipulate you by preying upon your anxiety, you can be sure they aren’t really worried about you at all. Actually, they are trying to prop up themselves. They are seeking to shore up their own slice$ of the pie, their own security.
After all, fear and love can’t coexist.
Love–complete, mature, whole love–casts out fear.
The people who are trying to make you afraid right now don’t love you.
They are using you.
Don’t fall for it.