Today I’d like to discuss something in particular that has been on my mind, namely the ever-present fear that is found in our culture today. Look at all of the little things our Western countries worry about: We worry about our appearances, about how our food tastes, and about so many other things. We care so much about what people think of us. We worry about what we already have and how we can make these things and situations better. Many people even worry about what they could have done in situations that have already happened!
There’s a difference between fear and caution. Fear is a feeling of danger irrationally perceived, while caution is an exercise against fear and other feelings in order to complete a task with care. Fear drives us towards a chaotic state, while caution is simply a means to focus yourself on a task at hand or something in the future.
Let’s turn back to fear. There are so many things to worry about in the world today. If you don’t believe me, all I ask is for you to turn on the news for ten minutes! The world is consumed by this fear; it continues to hunger and can never be satisfied. You can see this in particular when it comes to politics.
Our political atmosphere in the world today is a mess. We have all kinds of different sides who refuse to discuss basic topics with each other because of party affiliation. Why should that be a stopping block for discussing real political issues? These “feelings” tend to overcome any sense of classical debate from which we can actually apply and learn more about what we are talking about and be open to different viewpoints. I think most people would honestly get along with each other if, instead of calling one side “snowflakes” or “wrong,” being open to debating with the other side about policy and application that results in growth for our country instead of these name-callings and rants because of political indoctrination through the mass media.
As Winston Churchill said “The best argument against Democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Keeping this in mind, we should look towards educating ourselves about the problems at hand and the policies of our candidates before making a choice about our political beliefs. Churchill also says: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” and this in particular is what is needed today, rather than cowering in fear about the faintest possibility of being wrong. The problem is that everyone has to be right; so everyone’s afraid of being wrong, and this can only be fixed by openness to what other people have to say!
We hear about acceptance (who hasn’t seen those Co-Exist bumper stickers?) and tolerance, yet we find our Western culture so intolerant of the average Christian. We go on missions to evangelize foreign countries, but perhaps the biggest need for Christianity is right at home. Living an authentic Christian life is difficult in our modern Western world. The fear of living our own faith is so great because of the persecution that is leveled against it. When I tell someone that I’m a Christian, every once and awhile that person scoffs and disdains me for it. I hear many different people clamoring for tolerance of so many religious minorities, but why is there a specific hatred of Christianity from those who are secular? I’ve even heard of teachers singling out Christians in public colleges because they just don’t like Christians. It doesn’t appear to make sense. One who tries to practice Christian charity is just “someone who doesn’t know any better” or “uncivilized.”
But Christ said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid” (John 14:27, DRV). We hear stories of the martyrs going out and dying for their faith, being tortured and suffering for the faith that they loved. That was definitely not a peace that the world claims it can give; all the world can promise is material wealth and prosperity. The Christian faith was never meant to be something that was “attractive” by the world’s standards. It was always something difficult and hard to understand at a first glance.
By the world’s standards, and even among most other Christians, living the life of Christ is very difficult. It may result in losing friendships, relationships, wealth and power. Should we fear losing those things if we truly place ourselves in the hands of God? As the Israelites went into battle the priest would say:
Hear, O Israel, you join battle this day against your enemies, let not your heart be dismayed, be not afraid, do not give back, fear ye them not: Because the Lord your God is in the midst of you, and will fight for you against your enemies, to deliver you from danger. (Deuteronomy 20:4-5, DRV).
How inadequate is our trust! For if we had even a little faith, we would be able to placate these fears as offerings to God, as Christ said:
For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you. (Matthew 17:19, DRV)
Why should we be afraid if we really, truly, have our trust in God? We should not be afraid to evangelize, nor fear any of the consequences of doing what is right and just! Christ gave us His thoughts on the matter:
Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they? (Matthew 6:26)
If the birds can endure day to day without fear, then we too should live each day with that trust in God, doing His work and glorifying His name through worship and love. When we are treated unkindly; instead of reacting with sorrow as the world does to such loss, offer every suffering up for the glory of God!