Every person experiences fear; this response is part of our design as human beings. Without fear we would act foolishly, take chances that risked harm to others or ourselves. Without a certain level of fear, we would crash through our lives without any reflection or awareness.
But, like every other human quality, fear has a harmful side. It can paralyze us to the extent that we take no steps to improve our lives or to help others. If unchecked, fear will become the prime motivator for everything we do, causing us to react to life rather than make free choices and move according to God’s purposes.
Jesus often had to say to his followers, “Don’t be afraid.” He knew that the life he was inviting them to live was a radical kind of life that would sometimes elicit negative responses. He also knew that he was asking them to walk, talk, work, play, and relate to others in light of spiritual reality that went far beyond their religious training.
In fact, the kingdom of God that Jesus described really seemed impossible—little wonder that some people thought he was delusional! In the grittiness of the real world, how could people ever bring about the peace and reconciliation, the joy and freedom, that Jesus promised?
Greg Pierce offers this wise response: “We know that God will bring about the kingdom of God, so we don’t have to worry about making mistakes or failing in our efforts. This frees us up to try new and harder things, to take risks where they don’t appear justified, and to love others when they don’t (or can’t) return love to us.”
We can walk in faith—not fear—because God will bring about God’s dream for this world. The question is, will we trust—and not fear—this God who loves us and the universe that is our home? Will we let go of fear and walk with Jesus as he journeys among the people, offering mercy and hope?
Write a prayer to God about your fears. It can be a simple list of statements: “God, I’m afraid of ______.” Sit with these fears in the presence of God and ask for reassurance and the grace to trust.