Happy New (Fear)
Inflation, cyberattacks, COVID variants, looting, trade wars, vaccine mandates, climate change, budget deficits…
Is your blood pressure up yet? You’re not alone. More than six-in-ten Americans recently reported feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge at least weekly. Looking at the top news stories of 2021, it’s easy to see why so many feel the sky is falling. We’re bombarded, minute-by-minute, with a macabre parade of headlines telling us that we must be afraid. And we love it.
We scroll until we find the latest outrage. We watch until our desire to fear is satiated. Like pornography, drugs or other addictions, fear entices us to constantly return for a new high. However, just like drug addiction, we become numb to our fears, which forces us to seek out that “high” in darker and scarier places.
Today, fear isn’t so much socially undesirable, as it is a social obligation. We love to encourage fear in each other. We return to the sources that would catechize us on the “right” fears we should hold, and we’re quick to serve as beacons of their darkness. We can’t help but share, because fear loves when two or three are gathered in its name.
We Are Called From Fear…and To Fear
At least 365 times, scripture tells us to “Fear not.” This is an important contrast; illustrating that the Christian must constantly refresh his or her heart with that truth. As Christians, we are called away from fear. For someone who is in Christ, to rest and remain in his fear, is ultimately a mockery of God’s promises to him. As Christ said (John 14:1), “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
We’re quick to see that we must love and worship the Lord above all else. We worship the Lord in His perfections, His completeness, and His holiness. We know that worshipping anything or anyone less is idolatry. But do we see the objects of our fears in the same light? We must lay all of our fears at the foot of the Cross. Whether it pertains to our reputations, our health, our finances, our families, our futures, or our very lives. It is our recognition of Christ’s finished work, and his promise to sustain us through our fears, that enables us to eclipse the fears of this world with a healthy fear of the Lord that should mark our lives.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” – Isaiah 8:12-14 (ESV)
Just as the disciples were rebuked for their lack of faith in the storm, we must see our fears for the sin they are. But just as they lost their original fears in the dying of the wind, we must also see that we hold a righteous fear of God that is too small.
He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” – Mark 4:40-41 (ESV)
As we embark on a new year, it’s healthy to assess whether we’re living out the carol we’ve likely just sung in the preceding weeks, “From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.” Christ, in His perfect love, casts out our fear. Are we gripped by the fears of this world? Have we been guilty of spreading those fears to others? Confess those fears as sin and ask the Spirit to open your heart to a righteous fear of God. Holding fast to these truths is what ultimately will lead to joy and rest for the believer that fear can never provide.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15 (ESV)
John is the CEO of Knowing Jesus Ministries, a non-profit organization which exists to proclaim timeless truth for everyday life. He is married to Kati and has three children: Ashley, Jack, and Tyler.