Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about Fear. In fact, my new book NO FEAR IN LOVE, addresses the idea that those of us who believe in God have no substantial logic to fear anything in this world. God says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18)
If God is a God of Love (1 John 4:8), then those of us who Love God and Follow the teachings of God; have a duty to stand up to fear and present the world with a different way. We need not cower in the face of fear, but rather; stand up to it and be a people who represent the God of love we worship.
But sadly, we’re addicted to fear. (All of us)
It drives us.
It controls us.
It forces us to make decisions that when observed from a logical point of view are not logical.
We embrace it to the point where it consumes us, and sometimes we don’t even know we’re doing it.
Like a cloud of darkness we allow to blanket us, fear becomes an ugly energy that keeps us away from interacting with the world at a meaningful level.
So how do we cope?
Certainly, the world today is poised to present fear to us at an alarming rate. We see things happening in and around our communities that force us to retreat and isolate, instead of engaging and opposing. So how can people who follow God keep fear at bay, and live this “abundant” life God calls us to live?
Turn off the 24 hour news cycle
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you find yourself glued to a 24 hour news cycle, you’re inviting fear into your heart.
Last week I was talking with a man who worked in Israel as the highest Air Force position the United States posts in Tel Aviv. When he first arrived, he was telling me a story where a bus was attacked back in the early 2000’s. He gathered his people together and went to the site where the violence had occurred and when he arrived, he found everything normal.
Sure there was an attack on a bus, but the Israeli government had moved all the injured to the hospital, cleaned up the road, and moved the bus off the busy highway. Life was moving at a normal pace only an hour after the first bus reporting popped up on the news.
“Andy, if you would watch the news cycle, they video about 30 seconds of any particular event, and put it on a loop all day long. If you didn’t know any better, you would have thought the whole country was being attacked all day long because every time they mentioned the story, they looped the same footage.”
And then I started to see the danger of filling my head with 24 hour news.
There’s nothing wrong with being informed, but remember back to the days when the news only had 30 minutes to report the days’ events? Tom Brokaw would come on the nightly news and he told us everything we needed to know in his short 20 minutes of reporting. (10 Minutes were for the advertisers) Many people ask me ‘Don’t you think the world is getting worse and worse?’ and to be honest, I have to say NO.
By 2050, extreme poverty will be a story for the history books.
We’re living in a time when medical advances are allowing us to fight diseases that would have killed us only a few short decades ago.
Technology is moving at such a rate that energy will be available to most of the world through new forms of harnessing sustainable fuels.
Clean water is being actively addressed so people without it will all be within walking distance of some form of clean water in the next decade or two.
Life is moving, adapting, and growing.
But where are those stories on the 24 hour news cycle?
We’ve had global issues to deal with ever since the dawn of humanity. But the difference is, from the 1980’s till today, we have this new venue of information called 24 hour news. We see the same loops over and over again, and we think the whole world is burning.
If I may challenge you, if you find yourself in a ‘fight or flight’ mode of understanding global events, take a sabbatical from 24 hour news.
Just because something is on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s happening in your neighborhood
I watch my news feed on my phone like a hawk. I’m as addicted to information as the next person. But the difference is, the stories I read about are often associated with the regions of the world I’ve visited and am interesting in working in. Without some sort of context, we let stories filled with fear right into the palm of our hands. Much like the loop of a cable news outlet, if it’s in sight, it must be happening. Right?
When we continue seeing the stories shared or re-tweeted, we just embrace the drumbeat of fear and run to build walls and ‘safe’ communities where we can’t be touched by those who wish us harm. We have gated communities to isolate us from crime in our neighborhoods, even though we live in neighborhoods where crime isn’t a problem. We drive cars alone, so as to not invite unwanted guests to our daily routine. We live to protect ourselves from the fear of the possible, instead of going out into the world and facing real people.
Should we be vigilant to address evil? Sure.
Should we be concerned for our friends who are dealing with the issue in real-time? Of course.
But to think we have to live in a state of fear that our neighbors are going to come knock on the doors and cut our heads off? NO!! That’s what Terror is! It’s the instigation of fear so cultures respond in dramatic ways.
Sometimes, we need to fast from our social media feeds, and live in the moment of today. Most of us are just trying to keep our heads above the water getting kids to school, finishing that project at work, planning for our next adventure, or whatever is important to you and your family. And it’s FEAR that keeps us from doing the things we want to do, and forces us to do things we don’t need to.
It’s ok to turn off the internet news feed for a while. There’s nothing that says humanity has to be bound to our smart phones. I think if you take some time away, you’ll notice you won’t miss a beat on being informed.
God becomes clear when you trust Him.
Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness…” Are you doing that? Are you seeking the Kingdom of God on the earth today in spite of your fear? If not…Why?
Why don’t we look fear in the face and say, ” NO MORE!” I will not be afraid in my town, and instead look for ways to reach out and embrace God’s Kingdom?
The Kingdom of God is one that:
Includes those who are poor in spirit.
Reaches out to people living in a world spinning out of control.
Has the power to stand up to fear and meet it with love.
Gives hope to the hopeless instead of infighting fear leading to depression, guilt, and shame.
As we love our neighbors.
Love our enemies.
Love and work in our community.
We can truly represent the Kingdom as Ambassadors of a New Way, and that’s what we’ve been called to do.
All that to say, take a long look into your heart of fear today, and declare: NO MORE FEAR!!