People are trapped by their fear of others;
those who trust the Lord are secure. (Proverbs 29:25).
Is fear in itself bad? After all, it’s an emotion that we all feel at some point. Thus, what you do with fear is the issue and not fear itself. Do you recognize and acknowledge it or do you accommodate fear? You may shelter fear knowingly or unknowingly. To avoid entertaining fear, you must face it.
Facing or Entertaining Fear?
This is not facing fear in a Halloween kind of way. Rather, this is admitting that you are afraid, prayerfully examining what makes you afraid, and seeking God’s help to move past your fear. To miss this is to allow fear to be a part of your life. In other words, you’re entertaining fear and it will eventually consume and defeat you.
One of the fears that is common is the fear of others. When you’re entertaining your fear of others, it festers inside you and finds expression in distinctive ways. One of those ways is hatred.
Fear, Hatred, and Love
When I talk about hatred, I’m not talking about having areas of disagreement with another. Sure, you’re going to disagree with other people. You’re going to be different from some people. After all, you have different life experiences from others. For that and other reasons, you’re going to think differently and understand things differently. Sometimes you’ll agree and sometimes you’ll disagree with those around you. There will even be times when your Christian world view will set you apart from other people. What do you do?
You have a choice. You can face the distress that the difference and disagreement cause, without entertaining fear. Recognize that there is nothing wrong with it or the other person. It’s just life. You have your ways of thinking, your ways of doing things. They have theirs. Pray and ask God to fill you with God’s love for those with whom you disagree and/or those who are different from you.
Yes. You can face the fear of the other and turn it into the light of God’s love for transformation. Or, you can mask and entertain it by putting up barriers that keep out “those people.”
Entertaining Fear—It’s Dangerous
Barriers keep people out. They reinforce stereotypes. They dehumanize others. They give you the perfect setting for entertaining fear. “Those people,” the ones with whom you disagree, from whom you differ, quickly become enemies to be defeated. The barriers keep you from seeing them as rounded people whom God loves, for whom Jesus died. Before you know it, you hate them, these enemies. You are no longer able to wish them well.
Here’s the problem with the barriers and ensuing hatred. It sets you at odds with God’s teaching encapsulated in the Great Commandments to love God and love others as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40). This means that you are at odds with God who loves the world. That’s dangerous.
There’s another danger in entertaining fear. You set yourself up to be exploited by others. You see, your fear is someone else’s opportunity to manipulate and exploit you. When you don’t face your fear of others and allow it to take over, your rational side is diminished. Someone will come along and give voice to those inner thoughts about the other(s).
He or she will tell you lies and/or partial lies about the other that reinforce your fears and keep you firmly behind the barrier. The next thing you know, you’re saying and doing things that you would find despicable if you were not bound by fear. You’re saying and doing things that benefit that person but push you further away from the God of love.
Moving Past Entertaining Fear
To move past entertaining fear, receive God’s love and live out of it. Do so by coming to God with honest, surrendered, heart prayers. Place your fears squarely before God, ask God to help you get to its root, and move past it. Trust in God rather than in the comfort of being with those who think and act like you. Celebrate the difference that’s part of God’s creation. Be bold and strong in the Lord. Then, you can move past the danger of entertaining fear and live freely out of love, without hate.
Experience God more fully through honest, surrendered heart praying and live with greater clarity and peace.
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