Whatever happened to “No Fear”?
That was a trendy slogan a few years back, but it has very little in common with the true feelings of North Americans today. Fear is everywhere in our world, and includes fear of economic collapse, fear of terrorism, fear of insignificance or powerlessness and the many fears promoted daily on television news.
I think it’s important for us to discern the movements of our culture, because they often show us what spiritual forces are “having their way” in our times. One of the easiest ways to discern which spiritual forces are advancing is to ask some basic questions about what’s going on in the world around us. One question I think is especially important for our times is this: “Is our culture becoming more or less afraid?”
Economic hardships are a primary source of fear as people wonder how they are going to adjust to life without an income or without the same level of income as they once enjoyed. In the U.S., approximately 14 million more people have had to turn to food stamps just in the three years Barack Obama has been president. The national debt is about 50% higher and new home sales have just set a record low. In Canada, the employment situation is better, but certain industries have been hit hard (such as lumber, which sells mainly into the American market) and others will be impacted if there is a further downturn to the south. How will we cope with the challenges of living in this expensive part of the world if our income is reduced while costs such as food and gasoline continue to rise?
Another cause of fear that especially effects our southern neighbours is any threat (or perceived threat) to national security. Examine the reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I’ve read that there have been at least 10-15 new counter-terrorist organizations that have begun in the United States every year for the past 10 years! And, of course, each year each one of these organizations becomes larger, requiring more funding and being given more powers. Expensive and extensive wars have been fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, but do people feel less afraid of terrorism because of them? Airport security has been expanded and ever more invasive searches are carried out by ever-increasing numbers of federal agents, but does it make flying any safer? These searches have been expanded to train stations, to highways and to social networks on the internet, but have they unearthed genuine threats to people’s well-being in North America? The wars in the Middle East are not making friends for America among the Arab nations and it is at least possible that acts that are seen as repressive and heavy-handed against America’s own citizens will eventually spark an angry response. How will that affect us?
Then there are the common fears we all face related to aging. How will we cope with reduced mobility or with chronic pain or with the side effects of prescription drugs? How will we prepare ourselves and our families for the reduced role we will play in their lives? There are many uncertainties in life and the future remains veiled – no matter what our expectations are, we’re sure to be surprised along the way. So what do we do with fear when it stalks us? How do we know what an appropriate response is, both in our own lives and to the fear in society at large?
Two seeming contradictions come to mind. One is that fear is a God-given response to danger that stirs us to action. Fear can motivate us to flee to safety, to act courageously or to rethink a decision and choose more wisely. How many times have you witnessed a toddler chasing an animal or a vehicle and wished that he or she had more fear?
The other kind of fear tends to paralyze us, to keep us from moving forward. That doesn’t strike me as a healthy or godly kind of fear. Fear that keeps us anxious, that keeps us brooding over several possibilities, that may lead us into depression or passivity is not helpful. Many of the fears that loom over us are of this nature: we are sure something bad is going to happen, but we don’t know what, or when, or how it will affect us. This is the fear that is growing in the world around us, that is fostered by so much of the television news industry and that is so unhelpful.
The most oft-repeated command in Scripture is, “Fear not!”
The first response for the believer then is to ask ourselves if we are being overcome by the fear that is in the world. To what degree are we “hooked” into the fears that are being stirred by the evil one and which he is playing to his advantage? The second response is to revisit the Scriptures, remembering what they teach us about God’s care for us, and learning from them the importance of walking by faith rather than by fear. Faith offers us hope in all circumstances – both in giving us courage in times of distress and confidence in facing the uncertainties that lie ahead. It seems that these days provide an amazing backdrop for learning to walk the walk of faith.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’] https://silvervalleycommunitychurch.com/wp-content/uploads/dave_king_sm.jpg [/author_image] Dave King is the founding Pastor of Silver Valley Community Church. Dave studied at Regent College in Vancouver and completed a Master of Divinity degree in 1989. He has pastored in the Lower Mainland for nearly 30 years and started Silver Valley Community Church with a group of friends in 2003. Read more