Ebola, ISIS, UVA student abduction – everywhere we turn there are disturbing events unfolding. All of this can lead to a fear of the future. I believe the number one issue people struggle with in normal circumstances is fear, but it is especially significant now. It would seem that fear has won and we are left to live in insecurity and anxiety. Yet, there is another way. When we tackle our fears head on there is hope for a better life.
In the Gospels, 125 times Jesus says something as an imperative statement like, "Love Others." These 125 statements are on a number of different topics or themes. The number one theme, which is 21 times, is a variation of "Don't be afraid," "Fear not," "Have courage". The next closest is eight and that is the "love your neighbor" theme. What makes Christianity unique is that we are the Faith that teaches love. And yet, even though love is the central theme of Christianity, the number one statement that Jesus makes more than any other statement is, "Don't be fearful. Don't be afraid." Jesus knew fear holds too many people back from God's best for their lives.
Fear keeps us from loving deeply, keeps us from giving freely and keeps us from dreaming wildly. It keeps us from loving deeply, because when you are afraid, you don't want to risk and only in risk can you experience true, deep, satisfying relationships. Fear keeps us from giving freely because it creates a scarcity mentality. You think there is only so much and you can't part with what you have, so you are never able to give freely. Without giving freely, you cannot be blessed. It is more blessed to give than to receive. It's only when we give that we are then able to receive. Fear keeps us from dreaming wildly because you can't have huge, crazy dreams about what you could do if you are filled with fear. The idea of taking risks is abhorrent so you play it safe and miss out.
Resist being fear filled. Resist it. Fear breeds fear. The more we focus on it, the more exaggerated and distorted the fear becomes. The worst thing you can do is to be fear focused. You cannot be filled with fear because fear will breed upon itself and it will simply expand and reproduce and there will be even more fear in your life. Fear creates spiritual amnesia we forget all the good things God has done. We seem to forget all the ways God has carried us through. We get so focused on the present issue that we forget we have amnesia about the fact that God has brought us through time and time again.
As fear begins to take hold of our lives security becomes our god. Our true god really is security and safety. We seek out the safest thing, the safest place, the most secure feeling. But God never placed you on this earth to be safe. He placed you on this earth for a great adventure of how God is going to work in your life. And you will miss out on so much that God has for you if you try to build safety walls, if you try to hunker down into your bunker and make everything safe. You cannot create security and safety for yourself as hard as you may try.
And while you focus on security and safety, opportunities pass you by. Good things don't even get noticed. This is what is so dangerous about this time we are in right now. If you give into fear, you will miss out. You will miss out on the good things that God has for you. You won't even be able to see them because your sole focus will be safety and security. Don't do it. You can choose faith over fear. If you will exercise greater faith, you will automatically diminish fear. It's like a mathematical formula. The more faith that you exercise, the less fear you will have. The higher the faith goes, the lower the fear goes. Resist giving into fear and practice faith.