Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s goin’ down
– Buffalo Springfield, 1967
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:31-34
Don’t worry; be happy.
– Bobby McFerrin
“Stop! What’s that sound?” The year was 1967. Something was going down in the streets. In a year, (50 years ago now), Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy would be dead — cut down by an assassins’ bullets. The war and confusion in Vietnam would escalate. In two more years four university students in Ohio would be shot down by our own National Guard troops; and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young — the former Buffalo Springfield — would be singing a new song: “Four dead in O-hi-o.” Paranoia indeed strikes deep.
And today? It’s not much different. We have small countries with nuclear weapons capabilities and unstable leadership. And we have deeply-troubled individuals arming themselves like a small country and trying to take out as many innocent lives as they can in public gatherings, be it schools or churches or concerts or restaurants, for what reason, we don’t know. It could happen anywhere, anytime. Fear rules the day. “It starts when you’re always afraid,” and it keeps on going whenever we let fear into our lives.
There is every reason for fear to dominate our lives, except for one, and it’s a big one — big enough to handle it — God’s in charge, and Jesus told us not to worry. We either believe this or we don’t. It’s either faith or fear. One cancels the other out. When we let fear into our lives in any form, we make a mockery of what we say we believe.
Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t worry; be happy” song seems naive and simplistic today, but in reality, it’s right on. Jesus says that if we abide in His love, we will be filled with joy — joy that comes from God’s love flowing through us — love that casts out all fear.
We simply can’t afford to be caught up in fear, or to be making choices that presume a fear base. That’s the wrong message. We have a message to live, and hope and love to represent, so we can’t be preoccupied with trying to keep ourselves safe.