Being Fearless (5 of 7)

Our life in exile from the garden has been a life dominated by fear. In fact, fear is so pervasive that even our preoccupation with real life threatening issues, doesn’t hold a candle to what we imagine is threatening our lives . . . until the composition of our whole life becomes a compensating response to everything we fear. Invariably this compensation becomes an obsession, desperately hoping that we can keep our lives from spinning out of control. And even though this is a fool’s errand, we continue to hold those reins tightly, convinced that it is our only choice.

I’m not speaking here merely of the conspicuous manifestations found in the disorder of phobias or clinical anxiety – those who suffer these maladies need no convincing of fears menacingly ubiquitous presences. No, what I’m referencing here is the more insidious way with which fear flies under the radar, hiding in the details of how we evaluate every decision we make. Fear does its best work when it goes undetected; when you’re convinced you’re just being prudent . . . unaware that you’re allowing your fear to determine what is most prudent.

As a friend of mine oft opines “There are two kinds of people in the world — those who are in counseling, and those who have yet to figure out they need it.”. . . to which I would only add “All of whom are doing their dead level best to manage their fears”. This side of the Fall, fear is inescapable. In the book of Ecclesiastes we are treated to the wisdom of Solomon — systematically, he unpacks all of what life offers as remedy for our longings and fears. His conclusion is that life is nothing but an empty chasing after the wind at every turn, therefore fear God and keep his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

fearlessFor many years this answer struck me as disappointingly anticlimactic — fearing God just seemed like one more thing to fear. It wasn’t until I was reading in Luke 12 that I began to fully appreciate the significance of Solomon’s words. Before I got to the verses where Jesus was admonishing his disciples to not be anxious about life, because God will sustain them – knowing their every need (22-31); I read verses 4 & 5 which juxtaposes our misplaced fear of those who can merely kill us, with fearing him who has our very soul in his hands. Taken as a whole, Luke 12 appears to be saying that there is only one thing to fear – God. To allow ourselves to fear anything other than God, is to misunderstand God altogether . . . as if the thing you feared was somehow God’s equal.

Anyone in the military will tell you the most dangerous enemy on the battlefield isn’t the one who is well trained — it’s the one who does not fear death . . . because they’re liable to do anything. In this respect, fearing God and God alone, you are set free — liable to do anything. When we finally embrace this powerful truth, that God is the only thing worthy of fear, then the tumblers of the universe begin to unlock, we find the door swings open wide, only to discover that it is the power of love that breaks the spell of fear — “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear . . .” 1 John 4:18, which of course is best understood through the lens of “God is love” 1 John 4:16 – so the one thing left to fear is the very thing that removes all fear . . . let that soak in.

3 thoughts on “Being Fearless (5 of 7)

  1. I lived a life of fear that always manifested in the form of anger and sometimes violence. I never really grasped the whole “fear God” thing as I figured any God that needed to be feared must not actually be about love. However if that God is love and therefore casts out all fear then my new found relationship with God is actually with love and as such cannot encompass fear but instead repel it. So I am to be without fear because I have God. But if I am with God, owned by God and am faithful to God who cloths me and feeds me and sustains me why should I also fear him? Is worshiping him and loving him equated somehow with fear?

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  2. I think it works like this: All *other* fear is dispelled when God is *all* that we fear . . . and once we learn to fear God and God alone — then fear itself is dispelled. But if we skip over the step of fearing God and God alone — then all other fears remain in play.

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