Fear. It’s everywhere these days. I can’t seem to escape it. In my church, in my community, on the left, on the right, it’s everywhere.
It may be everywhere, but it looks different for different people. It can be seen in the anger of those who fear they are losing their constitutional rights. It can be seen in the person who doesn’t want to leave their house because they’re afraid of getting sick. I’m not saying that their concerns are justified, I’m just wondering if we’re afraid of the right thing.
In the New Testament, Jesus tells us what we should and shouldn’t fear:
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10:28 NIV
These verses remind me that I don’t need to be afraid of the temporal things of this world. Instead, I should fear God. It’s not the same kind of fear, though. Fear of God is rooted in reverence for the one who has given everything for us, for the One who is greater than we can imagine, for the One who loves us beyond our imagining:
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.Matthew 10:29-30 NIV
If we refocus on who God is and what He is calling us to, how would it change our lives in the middle of the coronavirus? His two greatest commands are that we love God and love our neighbor.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ i 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ j 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”Matthew 22:36-40 NIV
How is our fear helping us to love God? How is our fear helping us to love our neighbor? Are we instruments of God’s grace, or is our fear leading us divisiveness?
When we’re with those who agree with us, are we railing against our circumstances and judging others or are we looking for ways to love one another? With those who disagree, are we gracious and loving or we trying to browbeat them into seeing our side? Are we showing gentleness (Phil 4:5)? Bottom line, does our fear, whether it is found in avoidance or in anger, show our trust in the God who is bigger than all of this? Or does it show that we fear what can kill us in this life more?
As I reflect on all of this, God keeps taking me back to Philippians:
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Philippians 4:8 NIV
If I focus on these things, can I be paralyzed by fear? If I focus on the love of God, on the deliverance of God, and on the call of God, can I be driven by fear?
So maybe at the end of the day, we need to refocus on the God who is bigger instead of on our fear. That may mean we watch a little less of the news. That may mean less talk radio. That may mean that we have to show grace for someone who thinks differently than we do. It’s a bit easier to show grace when we are not driven by fear. So, in these crazy times, I pray that the words of Jesus will be true in our lives. I pray that we will be known by our love for one another, which is demonstrated by our actions. I pray our love will give glory to God and that we will bear His name well.
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