What are you afraid of?
I don’t mean that as a mere rhetorical device. I mean it quite seriously:
What are you afraid of? What’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to you? To your family? To your nation? To your workplace? To your way of life?
I’m trying to put words to this truth about the things we fear. It’s the flip side of the idea that perfect love drives away our fear. It’s the reality that anything short of perfect love will be tinged by our fears. And our fears are our undoing.
On some level, it’s impossible to fear something that is wholly outside of us. On some level, fears don’t exist on the level of the abstract. Whatever we fear, it’s really about how the feared thing will impact us.
I’d go even further. We delude ourselves into thinking that problems are outside of us. But they are not. Not really. Not ever.
It began with Eve, Adam, a garden and a snake.
And it’s easy to say “The garden was outside of them. The snake was outside of them.”
But the garden and the snake weren’t the problem. The reactions of Adam and Eve, these were the problem.
Left unchecked, fear drives us to become the very thing we so feared. The Old Testament tells the story of Josea and Gomer. It’s the story of a women who so feared being hemmed in and trapped that she embrarks on a journey that ends when she sells herself into slavery.
And consider Joseph’s brothers. It was clear that the youngest brother was to have power within the family. It was power that they didn’t want to share. And so they set into motion a series of events which culminates in Joseph become one of the most powerful people in the world; it culuminates in the brothers being wholly and utterly under Joseph’s control. It’s hard to imagine how Joseph could have ended up anywhere near as influential, if his brothers hadn’t feared his power. They made Joseph that way.
And then: Consider the fear of the Romans that was had by the people at Jesus’ time.
I’m not casting stones, particularly here. If I had lived at the time, I know I would have had good reasons to fear them as well.
But I can only imagine how it seemed to the people who were crucifying Jesus. The Romans must have thought, “Yeah, these guys seem all gung-ho for Jesus as he enters into the city. But that one guy, Judas, he turns Jesus over. Pontius gives them a chance to set him free, but the crowd goes for the murderer instead.”
They began with this fear of the Romans. And in selling Jesus out, they increased the power and sway the Romans had. After the crucifiction of Jesus, the Romans must have rested easier. Their consciences must have been assuaged. There must have been a sense of “See? We’re doing the right thing. This rabble actually needs us.”
I think I have some more to say on this topic. But not today.
What do you fear? If left unchecked, what could this fear do to you?