I know a young man from Virginia, an OH graduate, who has traveled a half dozen times to China quietly spreading the Gospel. He’s so good at this that he even became proficient in Mandarin.
I asked him how he does this. How does one navigate a strange land, a country without freedoms and limits and guarantees we have in the US. How do you remain safe from a state that doesn’t honor human rights? His answer was so simple: They control you with fear. But, if you aren’t afraid, then it doesn’t matter.
Are we training all our children to be so unafraid? Or, are we training them to be controlled by worry?
Many of my friends fear that our future is in the hands of the politicians and the almighty government. Sometimes they sound too hopeless and helpless as they see that liberty and individual responsibility are giving way to a collective effort to control viruses. Yet, we have enormous opportunity to teach biblical ideas about republican government.
Or, I know others who just fear the disease, Covid. Here we are with the best medical care and sanitation in the world. (Do you believe that?) Are we safer from illness than people at almost any time in history? (Trust me, of course we are!) So should we really be wearing PPE everywhere we go?
Some fear accusations of not loving neighbors or of spreading infection. Or, we fear we’ll be said to have broken the law. Does the law, or the regulation or the governor’s statement actually require what we think? Or, do we with little idea of the true legal requirements just aim for the security of doing everything that anyone might think these require.
If we always err on the side of “caution,” we are losing something; we are acting out of fear and we are training our children to do the same. We are training a generation that can be controlled and manipulated by those who hold power. We become a people scared by health claims, by false legal claims, by false claims about what is true love and true patriotism.
Consider these Psalms.
They don’t deny the existence of danger, but tell us to be confident as
we face it.
Psalm 23 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”
Psalm 91 “You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day.”
And, the bible gives us good reason not to be afraid. Speaking of the sparrow, Matthew 10 says God oversees all that happens. “…and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” We not only enjoy providential care in this life but the promise of a physical, bodily resurrection! Job 19 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” We should act like a people who believe that that safety in this life isn’t the only thing! We are looking forward to 10’s of 1000’s of years of life. That’s not to say that we should spurn a gift. When we have safety within our grasp, it is a thing to be gratefully received from almighty God.
Proverbs does tell us to fear one thing. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.” Wow! Fear of Jehovah leads to wisdom. And, wisdom increases the years of our lives on this side of the resurrection. Do we believe that promise? Do we fear God and has he given us wisdom in approaching Covid? Or, has the Lord given us over to be afraid of almost everything in sight instead of fearing him.
In the space of two days this week, I saw two articles from the London Daily Express quoting scientists who say the coronavirus isn't as lethal as we feared. One called the UK lockdown a "monumental mistake." Of course, some have been saying this since mid-March.
This isn't to minimize the turmoil of the past six months. On the contrary, this is where things get interesting. If they're right, the world panicked at the sound of a falling leaf (Leviticus 26:36). We all fled when no one was pursuing (Leviticus 26:17).
What might that mean? Has the Lord given us over to our phobias and terrors? Has He delivered us to our dread of death? Has He pulled back the screen to reveal the abyss of nothing that we think holds us up?
To paraphrase Chesterton, when we won't fear God, we don't become fearless. We fear everything.
By all means, protect the vulnerable. For the rest, Jesus says, Fear not. Never has everyday courage been so necessary, the everyday courage to shake hands and hug, the everyday courage to live in a world that is always teeming with dangers.
October 6, 2020