2010 Peace Sunday: Fear Not

4 pp
Fear is a natural and recurring human experience. Already in the third chapter of Genesis, Adam and Eve are afraid of God and hide after eating the forbidden fruit. Moses is afraid of public speaking. Pharaoh (a mighty ruler) is afraid of the plagues. Zacchaeus is afraid to come down from his sycamore tree for tea with Jesus. The disciples are afraid of the storm through which Jesus is sleeping. In Paul’s letters we read of an early church living in a constant state of fear. Today, fear is the currency of politics, war, advertising and, all too often, the late local news. Governments fear the thought of fear and use fear to protect themselves from further fear. We are scared of terrorism (which is fear), death, economic failure, heights, being alone, spiders, public speaking and, routinely, what other people will think.

Fear–whether constructed internally or externally–divides us from just and peaceful relationships with ourselves and others. Though it can sometimes draw us to a closer relationship with and deeper faith in the Lord when it inspires a sense of awe as that ancient “fear of God,” the Lord is regularly the means of overcoming these divisive fears. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19).

The Peace and Justice Support Network chose “Fear Not” because fear is a universal emotion that affects interpersonal relationships, church life, politics, and so many other facets of daily life. Media outlets lay down a blanket of vague danger when plugging an upcoming broadcast or headlining an article, politicians cultivate fears of every stripe for virtually every issue–and why not? Manipulating such a basic instinct is a most efficient way to reach our core, adjust our knobs, and push our buttons. Knowing how fear affects us as individuals, congregations and nations is key to realizing how we can better be agents of God’s peace in the world around us.

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