There is no need to be afraid.— Matthew 10:31
Courage! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.— Matthew 14:27
Stand up, do not be afraid.— Matthew 17:7
Do not be afraid; only have faith.— Mark 5:36
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.— John 14:27
Yes, that’s Jesus talking. And when he wasn’t encouraging people to be fearless, others — even his critics — were acknowledging that he himself was afraid of no one, “because human rank means nothing to you” (Mark 12:14).
If there’s one thing I’m attracted to in being a disciple of Jesus, it is that this is the path of fearlessness. By faith and by trust, we are empowered to live bathed in the consciousness of love and compassion, peace and joy.
Now, what saddens me is how so many Christians seem to be actively or passively disobeying Christ’s commandment to be not afraid. Christians are afraid of death, of terrorists, of suffering, of Democrats, of Republicans, of gay people, of crack addicts, of Jews and Muslims and New Agers and Buddhists, of secular humanists, of feminists and Wiccans and liberals, of conservative radio talk show hosts and televangelists and fundamentalists, etc. etc. etc. And yes, this list is contradictory because different Christians are afraid of different things. What I find saddest of all is when a Christian is afraid of the dark: that is to say, the “enemy” or Satan, a formless fear that usually descends into fearing things that are very real and concrete, when they are interpreted as being of the devil. And of course, the corollary to fearing all these things is to hate them. Many Christians don’t appear to be afraid, but they reveal how fearful they really are by the vehemence of their hatred.
Disclaimer: I am still learning how to live fearlessly myself. Or perhaps I should say, I’m still learning how to let God heal my fear. We all have a long way to go here. But the point behind this post is that I want to commit, this Lent and beyond, to live fearlessly in the Love of Christ. And I want that fearless love to transform me, particularly in my ability to be present with those who are different from me. Indeed, one of the lessons I have to learn is to stop fearing people who are gripped by fear.
Would you care to join me in praying for a fearless life? Just remember, nature abhors a vacuum. If you give your fear to God, be prepared to be filled with love and faith instead.