I was about to begin this blog post by pointing out how unbelievably safe we in the west are by historical standards, and how counter-intuitive it seems that we’re more fearful than ever. But then I remembered: while I need not dread dysentery or small pox, while I can be certain of my next meal, and while I needn’t worry about a militia coming down the road to kill me and enlist my children, even in comfortable Canada, I have a great deal to fear.
I watch the news of the latest mass shooting and wonder, anxiously, if someone will try the same at my children’s school, at my church, or in my workplace. I’m repeatedly informed that climate catastrophe is reaching a crescendo, and watch as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis wipe out entire communities without warning, seeming to validate this prophecy in real-time. I watch as an increasingly fragile economy behaves in ways it’s never behaved before, threatening recession or worse. I’m told that my food is filled with untested inorganic toxins, my vaccines are tainted with mercury, my water supply is short and growing shorter, my water is spiked with cancer-inducing fluoride, the government wants to take my guns away and leave me defenseless, immigrants are storming the gate so they can wipe out our democracy and set up Sharia law, our religious freedoms are being gradually eradicated and religious nuts are using their freedoms to threaten mine.
You may not place much stock in most of the terrors outlined in the preceding paragraph. You may think some of it is right on the mark, the rest hysterical nonsense. But regardless of whether you’re left or right, religious or secular, there is a fear-peddler near you with a whole lot of anxiety to give, free of charge. All you need do is sign up for the free newsletter, like the Facebook page, subscribe to the blog, follow the Twitter handle. And, if you’re a true believer, you can become a fear-peddler yourself: pay it forward, as it were.
But what does the bible tell us? “Be not afraid”!
Let that sink in. This isn’t a biblical one-off but a refrain that comes directly from God; and it is repeated over and over again – far more times than I’ve cited in the above verses. We are to let go of our fear, and trust God no matter what. He is in control.
Is this to say that I should expect everything to go well for me personally as long as I trust in Him? If I’m faithful, He’ll pay my mortgage, stave off illness and keep me comfortable? Been reading my blog long? NO! We’re not promised rewards or material blessings in this life, but in the next (Matthew 5:12, Revelation 22:12, 1 Peter 5:4).
But this doesn’t mean we ought to go walking through life as terrified of these boogeymen as our non-Christian neighbours. Where is our faith? Is this really the example we have to set, trembling before malevolent false gods who promise us personal, national and global ruin? Do we truly believe that this isn’t all a part of God’s plan?
There’s nothing wrong with being good stewards of the environment and encouraging others to do the same – it’s a good thing, in fact – but do you really believe that God will not protect His creation until it’s ready to be made new? Is this seriously keeping you up nights? Are you fearful of immigrants setting up shop in your neighborhood and corroding your nation’s identity? Why? Do you believe that your non-Christian neighbour has a more powerful message to give than you do? Really? Why not relish the opportunity to share the Gospel with someone who may have never heard it before? Are you terrified that another stock market crash is going to wipe out your retirement portfolio? If so, in whom have you put your trust?
The North American church has largely become weak, anemic, unconvincing and ineffective; and the solution to this problem isn’t going to be found in more creative programming. Imagine all that we could do and accomplish, together, if only we learned how to let go of our fear. I’m willing to give it a shot, are you?
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.