Thursday, September 09, 2010

Fear: The Greatest Threat to our "Way of Life"

Fear is a powerful thing. You see, when you get scared, your adrenaline kicks in- you go into instinct mode. Fight or flight. Let me put it another way- when you are scared, you cease functioning like a human. Humans have complex minds and emotions- humans are spiritual beings. Humans can throw wonderful altruistic causes to aid other humans that they don't even know. Animals don't do any of that. Animals prize survival. When we get scared, all those values and principles that separate us from the rest of creation begin to crumble. Fear turns us into animals.
The reality is, wounded people are more prone to be fearful. A person who gets mugged will have a hard time walking through an alley afterwards. A person who gets robbed is more likely to lock his door at night.
Since 9/11, America has been a wounded nation. On that day, something worse than what anyone could have imagined took place. And as a result, people have allowed fear to take control of their imaginations, and when fear gets the reins, it will always make the worst case scenario look like the most likely outcome.
Sadly, Muslims both in America and around the world have been the victim of those worst case scenario nightmares. Whether they are villagers in Pakistan who have been wrongly assassinated by CIA drone planes, or Arab Americans who have been treated poorly by neighbors, ordinary Muslims have paid a toll for the actions of extremists. That is partly a sad side-effect of human nature, a woeful commonality among all pages of history. But what honestly disturbs me is that in today's America the message of fear, whether it be by politicians or in sermons or in forwarded emails that have no basis in reality, has been popularly championed by those who follow Jesus.
The Gospel of Jesus is the ultimate challenge to our natural survival instincts. He commands us not to worry about the things that inevitably concern us most- what we will eat, what we will wear, whether or not tomorrow will bring enough to live off of. More than that, he tells you that if you want to follow him, you need to let go of your right to be scared of dying. Our fear of death reveals how little we believe the promises he gave us.
Ultimately, people who say they believe in the Bible should have no business in the fear industry. We are a people who should be marked by hope. We are a people who should be defined by our commitment to love and bless all peoples even the face of suffering. The early church faced a nightmare we can't imagine- a Roman Emperor who burned Christians as human candles for party decorations- and yet not a verse of fear can be found in the New Testament. You see, those people believed in the prize they were offered. Do we?
If no one can take anything from you, then no one can be your enemy. The first followers of Jesus were an enemy-less people, a people who walked in the power of God's presence and who changed whole cities with their message. However, if we choose to let fear inform our worldview, it will always make us less then we were created to be.


Blogger Dennis said...

John 18:10
John 2:14-16
Matt. 21:12-17
Fear is healthy. It alerts the senses, prepares the body, and increases the chance for survival. As many have said, "If you're not afraid, you're not paying attention."

I understand you're intent is to dial down the rhetoric. The greatest threat is from within and our slow decline away from our founding values.

5:57 AM  

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