I live in a community paralyzed with fear.
Well that’s not completely true, but the fact is that our community, this place called Antioch, a suburb of Nashville, finds itself at a crossroads driven primarily by fear.
The fears are many: the fear of crime, the fear of others who aren’t like us, the fear of economic downturn, the fear that we are being left behind. These fears lead some to leave the community, to contribute to urban sprawl as the move further out only to take the problems with them rather than addressing the fear that led them to leave. The voices of fear are many, misusing statistics and anecdotes in their narrative of negativity. In fact, many of the fears are based in the world of perception and not reality, images and stories that are much more myths than fact. Certainly, there are issues of concern in our community, but these issues are not always as rampant as some might think.
The question for people of faith is what do we do with our fear.
After all, the scriptures seem to suggest that fear is not a part of the life of faith. Paul said it clearly that love casts out fear, and he lived that example in his willingness to be imprisoned and tortured for the gospel. Likewise, the early Christian martyrs lived a radical faith which allowed them to face persecution and death boldly.
But somewhere along the way, Christians, especially those of us in places of safety and security, lost our boldness. We often find ourselves living and hiding in fear, enclaves unto our selves where we maintain our sense of well being. Very rarely are we willing to take radical risks for the sharing of God’s love with the world, and when we do, those risks are often seen as aberrant behavior.
Of course, fear is a normal human emotion. We are programmed through both nature and nurture to fear harmful things as a mechanism for our own protection. Fear at many levels is an important thing to listen to, for to lack fear entirely is to fall into recklessness.
Yet, fear seems to get away from us. It runs out of control, being amplified to the point where it can overcome our lives and lead us to inaction. Uncontrolled fear makes us forget the power and love of God which helps to overcome that fear. And, fear quickly moves into paranoia and mistrust, separating us from others which ultimately harms our relationship with the Creator.
Don’t get me wrong, for I am not trying to suggest that we all don’t get scared from time to time. Those scares are warning sings to watch out and be on our guard.
But fear is something different entirely, for is separates us from one another.
So, to live in fear or not to live in fear.
I guess that is the question.