Maybe I have no place entering the debate on matters I am hardly aware of as I sit on a ship in Madagascar completely separated from the world. Maybe this is not what or why I blog and shouldn’t get into it. Maybe the only thing I have to be afraid of here is that my purse is stolen out of my tuktuk. Maybe at the end of the day what I have to say doesn’t reach anyone who will listen. Maybe this is all true but maybe it isn’t.
I see fear every day. Patients travel across their country to an idea that is completely foreign to them for a surgery that may or may not be possible.
Earlier this field service a 26 year old patient ran away from our outpatient facility before surgery because he was completely frightened of the unknown. After returning with his father and being comforted by our crew this patient received surgery, has recovered and been discharged with new life. He was able to overcome his fears and his life will forever be changed as a result.
In the last few weeks and months I too have been terrified. Not of terrorist attacks or potentially dangerous refugees. Not of being in Madagascar working a job that I pay to do. Not of sickness or danger or physical threats. No, I have been terrified that the body of Christ has so turned against itself we are no longer a united front against the enemy and in this weakness we are letting the enemy win.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Abraham Lincoln from Mark 3:25)
Yes, there are some very controversial issues – gay marriage, abortion, refugees – but when these issues start tearing at the fabric that is the body of Christ the enemy has taken hold of whatever power we have to fight and torn it to shreds. No, we don’t all have to agree but the more we fight with one another the less the enemy even has to work.
But even this does not deserve fear since I know that in the end the enemy is defeated and God does and will reign sovereign.
We live in a world of fear and terror. Whether it’s a patient afraid of a big white ship or a kindergartener afraid of his first day of school, fear is one of the most natural reactions as human beings. However, what in life do we really have to be afraid of? There is a scene in Prisoner of Azkaban when Harry’s boggart turns into a dementor proving what Harry fears most is fear itself
or perhaps the more famous Franklin D. Roosevelt quote
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
While this is obviously full of wisdom I think there is another answer.
First, what is fear?
Fear (according to Merriam-Webster): noun – an unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger; a feeling of being afraid; a feeling or respect and wonder for something very powerful
The scenarios mentioned above fall into the two first definitions. Fear of danger or being afraid. I however think we should focus on the last definition “a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful.”
What are we to fear?
The answer is given to us over and over again in Scripture. We are to fear God.
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. – Psalm 112:1
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – Proverbs 9:10a
This is not a fear that makes us hide under the bed or build a bunker to survive a nuclear war. This is reverence and respect knowing that God is the almighty creator of the universe and everything in it, and he has chosen to commune with us. God chooses us. This fear is to motivate our actions not out of terror but out of devotion. We do not have to engage in the first two types of fear since we know that God triumphs in the end and if God is for us none can stand against (Rom 8:31).
We must then look at our actions and our fears and determine if we are running away or fighting one another when we should be united in a reverent fear of the Lord.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:25