Our relationship with fear


Jesus seems not to have many problems at all – not with The Law – not with The Prophets – not with God the Father – not with endless hand-wringing over so much we endlessly hand-wring about. Poverty, slavery, custom, culture, occupation, empire, do we have a rule for this or a rule for that, can we legislate that wart on society out of our lives – so many things we stress about, pontificate over, deem significant, important, critical and crucial. Jesus doesn’t seem to hand-wring very much at all.

But there are a couple of hot buttons: manmade rules replacing The Law, and the consequence of replacing The Law with manmade rules.

“Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’ He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.’
Then he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, “Honour your father and your mother”; and, “Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.” But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, “Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban” (that is, an offering to God)— then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.’”
Mark 7:1-13

The Law has consequences. It is Love. Manmade rules have consequences. It is division. And fear is the consequence of division. And just what might be the consequence of fear?

The absence of Love.

God so gets it … Jesus so gets it … we all so really truly and intuitively “get it” – we all want to be free to love and be loved.

So why do we rarely feel free? Rarely feel loved.

Maybe because we all teach and preach – in all walks of life – in all corners of the earth – in all shapes and sizes – in every circumstance for success individually and as a society: follow the rules. There must be order, for without order there is chaos.

And the consequence of “order without chaos”?

Fear.

A fear so embracing and timeless it becomes normal. It even becomes comforting. It becomes reliable. It becomes our identify and our religion. It becomes love. We know nothing other. We make more and more rules to “keep fear out” – to keep us “safe” – all the while never admitting it simply ties us to fear more and more.

We have fine tuned our relationship with fear. And where there is fear …

Does that strike you as a little odd?

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14 thoughts on “Our relationship with fear

  1. Good morning Paul!

    Another good one. Your talk about love is just so encouraging and uplifting. Rules and love…tough subject, at least for me. I am such a black and white type of person. I tend not to see the grays very well. But, I get that some things are gray and love is the order of the day in that case. I am also a big fan of order..sigh. Anybody with thoughts?

  2. “And just what might be the consequence of fear? The absence of Love.” The less we fear, the more we love. Your post reminded me of a story I read in a book a while back- A father had recently taken his son to get his driver’s license. The father gave his son the keys to take his first drive by himself. The son sat in the seat and thought about all the rules he could break. The son ended up driving a short while and then went straight home- and did not break any rules- not because he feared the consequences, but because he loved and respected his father too much to do it.

  3. I think you hit the nail on the head, Paul. Most of us, I think, are motivated by fear and we rarely realize it. I was recently talking to someone about that and what came to me is the way of the Kingdom is to be motivated by faith in love. The Apostle Paul talks to us about faith, hope, and love. Whatever we do is done in faith. In Corinthians, he teaches us that love is to be our reason for whatever we do.

    • Thank you. I am becoming more curious about this relationship between fear and rules v love and law. So much is written about sin, compared to so little about fear. Yet fear we can do something about – far more easily than this “hard to pin down” sin label. And yet we seem to choose not to so often.
      Having lived the majority of my life on the fear and rules side of things, and then taken quite a while to lose that even after high-fiving the Lord and asking Him to my life – I do not criticise. I cannot!!!
      Yet now with love and law – far more than fear and rules – I find some entrenched in concrete with a certainty that (unacknowledged) fear and rules is The Answer, The Relationship, The Only Way to follow.

  4. Fear is so crippling and robs us of so much. I wonder if that is why the verse says “Fix your eyes on Jesus”. No momentary glance at our Lord will free us.

  5. Hi, Fear. It’s me, Heather. We’ve never been formally introduced but we know each other quite well. You’ve been there, sometimes superglued to me, sometimes lurking behind corners. But I’m familiar with the very essence of you. I know we haven’t been spending as much together lately and that I’ve relegated you to my grandfather’s World War II trunk that I keep upstairs. When I feel like reminiscing, I open the trunk and you are there. I make no apologies for placing you beside other mementos from my past. Because see, that’s where you belong. In the past. The Heather you knew, the girl with whom you had a relationship, well, she’s…um…she’s dead. And I was born in her place. A new me. A better me. Truth is, I don’t need you anymore. I have something so much better than you, Fear. I have Jesus. And He has filled me with peace and love that surpasses all understanding.

    You were a very big part of my life for a long time. And I will probably think about you from time to time when I sift through my memories. I might even take you out of the trunk and hang out with you when my faith and love waver. But that will be rare. Because I am done with our relationship.

    Love is my answer, Fear, to all of your questions.

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