Slaves to Fear or Free in Christ?

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In our attempts to flee from our fears and escape death, we will become imprisoned by them.

Whether it’s fear of the coronavirus, fear of rioters, or fear of the consequences of social unrest and discord, there seems to be a lack of courage in society at present. In particular, civil courage. Civil courage is closely related to heroism, in that a person acts bravely to take a stand against danger and fear. Wherever we look, the actions of many of our citizenry, governmental officials, and political pundits lack real courage. They’re quick to deplore what they oppose, but they’re reticent to act on their convictions. It’s true; we see courageous individuals here and there, those who display bravery, but they don’t appear to have much influence on public life.

A lack of courage is most often a consequence of an abundance of fear. We lose courage when we’re afraid supply chains will break down and wonder how we’ll put enough food on our tables. We lose courage when we’re afraid of being arrested even when abiding by the law. We become discouraged when there’s civil discord. We don’t want an armed conflict to erupt in our streets. Most of all, we lose courage when the fear of death overtakes us because death can’t be legislated.

Fear of death drives us away from each other. It isolates and dehumanizes us. We don’t hug each other or shake hands because we’re afraid of contagion. We’re fearful of human contact because we may unknowingly spread the disease.

Fear of death drives us away from each other. It isolates and dehumanizes us.

On the other hand, the dynamic nature of scientific research and inquiry can leave us feeling unsure. We obey the experts who tell us one day to do one thing, and then the next day tell us to do the opposite. The data changes as more information becomes available. Depending on what we hear reported, and when it’s reported, we can be left feeling unsure about the best course of action for ourselves and others.

Do we or don’t we leave our houses? Do we visit our relatives? Should we go to church? What can we do to help stop something that can kill the most vulnerable amongst us? So many questions and the answers seem to shift continually. It’s easy to understand then why we become voluntary prisoners of fear. We lack certainty, and that results in a lack of courage.

When we’re scared and discouraged, we’re more likely to do whatever we’re told in fear rather than in wisdom. We become resolute that the experts and the law will redeem us, and in response, we turn our backs to our real Savior. When people are scared, they tend to ignore the concrete reality of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (and the very real fact that he will resurrect us at the Last Day). Instead, they turn to others for answers, certainty, and encouragement. They become so desperate for answers they look for saviors amongst sinners and are led away from Jesus, who is our resurrection and life.

In our attempts to flee from our fears and escape death, we will become imprisoned by them.

When we’re no longer encouraged and emboldened by the power of Jesus’ resurrection, we’ll be chased away from him by fear. We will rewrite our books, repaint our pictures, recast our statues, and rename our streets. We will establish new holidays and write new histories. In our attempts to flee from our fears and escape death, we will become imprisoned by them.

But the good news is Christ Jesus chases away our fears. We’re turned around to repent and believe that this is the Word of God who creates us, gives us our bodies, souls, and minds, and keeps his promises to us. He will raise us from death to live with him forever.

This is a simple truth expressed by Scripture. It’s not easy to accept when we’re afraid. We’re under constant attack from sin, the powers of this evil world, and Satan. But as difficult as it is for us to acknowledge, there are no other options. We were not redeemed to die cowering in our beds. In Christ, through faith, we are set free to boldly live in the power of his resurrection by which we will be raised from death.

Our fears will hide this truth, but he will not hide from us. We may allow ourselves to become slaves to fear, but he is faithful to his promises, which means we will be free in Christ Jesus.

This is the constant tension we live in as Christians. It’s why, at this time, when so much of our decision-making is driven by fear, we pray to our Good Lord that we receive from him the strength necessary to live confidently and courageously despite the unrest and discord that’s going on in us and outside of us. We pray that that perfect love, our resurrection and life, will keep his promise and drive out our fears. And he will because Jesus has triumphed. He’s won victory over sin, this evil world, and Satan through his death and resurrection.