Don’t Live in Fear
by Terry Wane Benton
- Fear of the virus,
- Fear of the vaccine,
- Fear of getting the virus,
- Fear of spreading the virus,
- Fear of side effects of the unknown,
All are legitimate issues that we must grapple with and approach with caution and discernment. But each person must also be cautious about unreasonable fear and the fear that leads to being unloving and judgmental toward others that don't see these issues the same as you. We should fear fear itself. Fear that is paralyzing, judgmental, and divisive does more damage to the mind and to relationships than physical illness and physical death. We should be more afraid of such fear than we are the various viruses that are presently the focus of concern. One side effect of terror and panic regarding our present landscape is that it can often set people against each other when none of us are experts and the supposed experts are very divided about what is true and what is not true. Becoming judgmental, hateful, and divisive is not what you need, and certainly not what the church of our Lord needs.
"Do good and do not be afraid with any terror" (I Peter 3:6).
Be more concerned about losing your peace in Christ. Let the peace of God rule in your heart (Colossian 3:15). What is ruling in your heart? Peace or anxiety? If it is not peace, then fear has become greater than your commitment to the peace of God.
Be more concerned about the virus of the heart that may be driving you away from the highest principles of love. "Above all things put on love" (Colossians 3:14). Anxiety can drive wedges between people. Anxiety and fear can make you super critical of others while not being very critical of your own attitude. Fear the damage of being unloving and divisive more than you fear a virus that is not nearly so deadly. A lack of love is far more deadly -- eternally deadly! Living in fear that drives judgmental and divisive attitudes is far more deadly than COVID-19. 98% recovery versus no recovery from spiritual recklessness. If a person says "I love God" and hates his brother, he is a liar (I John 4:20). You cannot claim to love God whom you have not seen while the brethren you do see are the tests that prove the truth about your heart. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18).
Which issue is more important before God? Pushing your view of the virus and vaccine when brethren are listening to different "experts" and have different views of what is true and not true? Or making sure that you do not let fear push you away from loving your neighbor as yourself, giving them room to handle this in their best judgment as you give yourself? What do you think God is more concerned about? Your fear-driven agenda? Or your agenda of peace and love and unity?
Things to think long and seriously about! If your first response is criticism and wants to put distance between us -- not love, pulling together, patience, and longsuffering -- then there is a more serious virus driven by fear, and that virus of the heart needs serious attention now! We don't know all we want to know about physical viruses, but we do know when our hearts are contaminated by fear and a lack of love and peace. We can do something about that! Make sure that gets the proper attention.