Do not be afraid

Don’t panic. Fear is our enemy. Not a policy, not a political party, not any one particular person. Fear is.

Fear ties the hands of those who would use them to do right. Fear binds people to their seats when it is time to stand up. Fear closes the mouths of those who would speak the truth. Fear turns the eyes and minds of the valiant away from the reality of “what is?” to the uncertainty of “what if?”

Fear plays on both sides.

Fear whips the passive bystander into active aggressor. Fear clenches the fists of those who have by telling them they have not. Fear uses one hand to stab in the back and the other to point an accusing finger at “those people.”

What great movement has ever been accomplished by anyone who chose fear over action? What memorable words have ever been penned or declared by those who squelched the fire in their belly with the safety of silence and indifference? This has never happened and it never will.

We’re all familiar with the paranoia and slander that has filled our airwaves and news feeds these past months. Some of it directed towards specific individuals and others towards entire people groups. Now that a larger, more powerful microphone has been given to some of the voices that have spread such toxic things, it is tempting to be afraid. Don’t be. Do not be afraid.

The problems of this present age are the same as those faced by our predecessors. They are dressed differently but their methods and weaponry are still the same: fear. But know this: This is good news. If the poison hasn’t changed, the antidote hasn’t either.

Fear is a commodity that is bought and sold, not an inheritance that is given or received without choice. It falls apart when people refuse to buy and it trembles in the presence of of those who refuse to believe its deceptions. The power of the schoolyard bully and the political tyrant are equally hard-pressed when even one individual has the audacity to cast off the luxury of standing by and doing nothing. To say, do, or even think differently than the status-quo of hate is to heave a boulder at the glass house of fear. Do not buy into fear or its byproduct of hate, thus betraying yourself. If you must fear anything at all, fear not the enemy at your door but the enemy in your mirror.

So no matter how the politics of our country may change, it is up to you and I to resist fear. Whether you have been unfairly exempt or included in the sweeping criminalization of various people groups during this season, you have a strength to contribute to this effort. Love and be kind to others no matter what stereotypes have been forced upon them. Be unafraid of any stigma that may come your way for doing so. Speak up and speak out for the violated, stand in the gap between victim and oppressor with a love that will lift up the one and set an example for the other, reach out to those who have been shaken by our nation’s volatile climate. Do not wait for anyone else to do it. The hate you may endure for doing so is no match for such compassion.

If you are a Christian, you come from a long lineage of fear-resisters; you are not alone in the struggle. Jesus told us “You are the light of the world…Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Though the whole house is dark, a single light will penetrate it. Jesus’ entire earthly life was spent as a solitary light in a dark world. The world has never been the same since. If you want to be a light to others, you have to step into the darkness. You won’t be alone when you do.

Esther was a queen who used her position of influence to dismantle one man’s planned genocide of an entire people group. The words she received from a friend to help her maintain focus are just as applicable to us in our present positions of influence: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). 

What about Martin Luther King Jr? Mother Teresa? The kid in school who stood up for you when you were getting picked on? That co-worker who not only didn’t laugh at the racist jokes being casually tossed around the lunch table but said something to stop them? Each of these refused to be scared into silence and inaction. What about you and what about me? Such accomplishments are within reach. We have work to do. Today is the day to overcome fear.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). 

 

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