Fear is not your friend

There’s a lot of fear going around the world today. This isn’t an exaggeration. Right now, the world is united in their fight against a virus that for 20% of the people who get it, can be devastating.

My wife speaks with people all around the world, teaching conversational English. The topic with every single person, whether in Japan, Saudi Arabia, or Brazil, is the same. There is fear. Probably rightfully so. After all, it is better safe than sorry. My kids’ school is cancelled for three weeks, and my church has done the same. People are going to the grocery stored and stocking up on their apocalypse supplies like it’s Y2K all over again. As my country has closed the border, it is like the country is singing as a choir, the David Bowie song that goes, “I’m afraid of Americans, I’m afraid of the world.”

One of my favourite books is The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus. While speaking of fear, McManus writes,

“What we fear is what we’re subject to; our fears define our master. Where there is no fear, there is no control.”

Right now, who is our master?

Before you jump to conclusions, I am not talking about ignoring Health and Safety advice and running into the senior’s home because you have no fear, or walking into the home of an isolated individual. Fear and recklessness are different. The verse “no weapon formed against you shall stand” does not mean that you will never get sick, be hurt, or die, let alone what you might give to someone else.

Just because there is danger doesn’t mean we need to fear. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is speaking to his disciples about worrying when he says,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:25-34

There are a lot of things you could worry about. However, as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, life is but a vapour. Jesus came to show us that this life is merely the stepping stone into eternity. It is because of that we do not have to worry. After all, Jesus has come in perfect love, and as John tells us, perfect love drives out all fear.

When we open up our hearts to perfect love, we invite Jesus to be the master. Jesus drives out fear. Let’s confess our fear to Christ, allow him to squeeze it from our hearts, and choose to walk, not in fear but the life and hope of Christ. For we know that no matter what happens in this life, whether good or bad, that Jesus is still King, that his kingdom will come, that our present life isn’t all that there is, but there is an eternity ahead with the God of love.

It is because of this I can give that extra toilet paper roll away. It’s because of Jesus that I don’t have to be scared to go outside for a walk, while still being smart about my interaction with others. What it means is that even if I catch the virus, I can follow the steps, not getting all worked up, letting my mind going to the worst-case scenario. It means that we can hope and trust that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads by still waters, if not in this life, the next.

Be safe. Be smart. But do not live in fear.