When We Live Without Fear
Do not be afraid. Whether you’ve been told this by your parents, a friend, or a pastor, it’s a familiar charge. In truth, the call to not be afraid is the most frequent command throughout the entire Bible. And I believe the reason is simply this: fear comes naturally to us. While on the other hand, love, our primary pursuit, doesn’t. This is why we are told not to be afraid and to love. For what sense would there be in someone being told to do something they already naturally do? Fear, this distressing emotion, is a powerful force that cripples us and finds its expression in different ways. We fear death, heights, spiders, traveling by plane, or looking foolish. We worry about final exams and whether we’ll pass, about not having enough money to buy groceries or pay bills, about not having career success. We contemplate relationships and marriage, and we’re afraid it might all be a disaster. Sometimes we act in our fear and settle for a job we know will destroy our morale because we’re afraid provision won’t come any other way. Or sometimes we enter into a relationship we know is wrong because we’re afraid of being alone, of being unloved.
Oddly enough fear is comfortable and almost natural to us, like breathing air, and we find safety in submitting to it. But we’re drawn into stories of those in books or movies who face their fears and romanticize about doing the same in the stories we’re living. If we dress up such an act of facing one’s fears as heroic, and resonate with it so deeply in our souls, then surely it must mean that fear is something to be overcome and conquered. As we see in stories of others, and hopefully our own, facing fear is often a necessary part of the climax as it makes way for a resolution.
Scripture tells us that no one has ever seen God but Jesus is a reflection of God (John 14:9). If this is true and God is love, then Jesus is also love, and to follow him is to abide in his love and love others. Our insecurities and past hurt, however, will interfere with us loving others, and ultimately from receiving love from Jesus, because fear and love are incompatible. Therefore, it won’t be easy to follow Jesus unless we learn to live without fear.
So it must be asked, “Can we imagine a life without fear? And if so, how is it removed from our hearts?” It’s first necessary to understand that incorrect thinking is the root of fear. If our view of God is solely one of a god who is always angry or disappointed or casting judgment on people, we’ll most certainly fear and resent him.
The antidote for our fear, then, is a correct understanding of God’s love for us. When we move through life in obedience to fear, it’s as if we merely exist; we become lifeless, allowing fear to control us. But God is a God of the living, not of the dead. He made the first move by giving up his Son, Jesus, and raising him from death to life. The bodily resurrection of Jesus ultimately points to the God who made it possible.
To believe in this God is to believe everything will be alright. It’s to believe that there will be life, that there will be new beginnings. It’s to begin thinking correctly about yourself: that you are endlessly loved by God and fear has no place in you. When you accept this love, you can begin to live more freely as a child of God being in closer union with him, yourself, and others.
The resurrection of Jesus is the revelation of perfect love—God’s perfect love for us and his creation. It’s this love that will push out our fears. And if we can trust in the perfect love of God, we can trust him with any other task that may come our way.
Can you offer a different perspective on living without fear? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts.