What’s your biggest fear? I feel like this is a question we always like to ask jokingly with friends or family. When I ask this question I usually hear things like snakes, heights, public speaking or maybe women, (all quite scary!). I will admit, even though I try to act like this big tough guy, spiders have always creeped me out. They are just so nasty looking and some can even kill you! While each of these things above can be scary in their own way, they are not really what we are scared of.
So what are you REALLY scared of? Being alone the rest of your life? Being a failure? Change? Not being in control? Wasting your life? Death? The list could go on and on, but I feel like all of our surface fears are only the result of some deeper fear. For example, if you are afraid of snakes my guess is that you really fear death. While non-poisonous snakes may still gross you out your fear level drops once you know it can’t hurt you. And that fascinates me. It is always amazing to me how much we can change when fear sets in. I have seen some of the most logical people in the world go seemingly nuts due to fear.
And that’s the problem. While fear can be useful, (like when a mother is so scared for her child’s life she is able to fight off a bear), it mostly causes us to do strange things. Ever wonder why that great girl settles for that terrible guy or why that honest hard working man starts to cheat and lie at work? It’s all because of fear. We are so afraid that we end up doing things we know are wrong just to make the fear go away.
In almost every culture in the world, the answer to fear is to cover it up rather than deal with it. Its kinda like how I clean my apartment. Instead of actually getting on my hands and knees and scrubbing the dirt out, I sweep it under the couch or throw a rug over it, (sorry Mom I know you taught me better). That’s how we treat fear. We know that actually dealing with our root fear will take some effort and work, so instead we cover it up with whatever is easiest at that time.
Look at America. The news is going crazy today because Osama Bin Laden has been killed and claiming “justice has been done.” But has it? Did killing Bin Laden bring anyone back or really alleviate any fears? I hate to say it, but there is still evil in the world. You kill one and another even more evil pops up. This is why revenge and killing never work. It only causes more revenge and killing. Yet because we fear death or loss we rejoice when an unrepentant sinner is sent to hell. “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” Ezekiel 18:23. Out of fear we Americans have exalted ourselves to judge when in actuality we are no better than any Middle Eastern terrorist and need Jesus as much as they do.
Or look at China. I am always saddened to see the empty look in many of my students eyes. They have fears and doubts about life and their future, but instead of trying to talk about them, they go to the bars and drink away their fears. Or maybe they go to KTV and try to “relieve pressure” as I have heard some say. Or sadly many men go to the red light district to forget about the fears of life. Why is smoking so popular in China? Because it helps calm the nerves of all the pressures that we face everyday. These all provide a quick fix to fear but none offer any real lasting help.
But I don’t want to just cover up my fears, I want to solve them. But how? I cannot solve my own fears, (if I could I wouldn’t be afraid in the first place!), and culture only tries to cover them up. Thanks be to God for His Word and the answer to all our fears! I have found two very clear answers on how to solve our fear problem.
The first is love. “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. We love because he first loved us” 1 John 4:18-19. When you experience perfect love it casts out fear. But perfect love is not something you can find from your friends, family or culture because each of these things have been stained with sin. Perfect love comes from Jesus Christ alone. I love verse 19. Our love all comes from Jesus. He first loved us with his perfect love and if we remember that and abide in this amazing love it casts away our fears!
The second is trust. Once you understand and know the perfect love of Jesus it allows you to trust him. Read Psalm 23. I especially like verse 4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Wow. I don’t know about you, but my fears seem pretty petty compared to “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.” That sounds like a really bad place! Yet even in the worst scenarios or fears of life, God is there.
And this is the crux of the issue. Our fears all come from a love and trust issue. If you do not know the love of Christ you can’t possibly trust Him. And if you can’t trust Him then life looks unpredictable, random and scary! But if you know perfect love, if you have experienced the love of Christ that casts out all fears, then I challenge you to trust that there is nothing unpredictable, random or scary to God! Trust in God who holds everything in place and controls every part of creation. If you believe God loves you then why fear? May we all realize that fear is not meant to be covered up, but rather it is to be cast out by the perfect love of Christ. And may we confidently trust that the God who loves us is also in control of every single element of the universe.