[Today, with the magic date of June 15 around the corner and things returning to some semblance of normal, I went back to the first Catch I wrote that mentioned the pandemic and it was this one, on March 10, 2020. Even though we have much to celebrate, fear is still knocking on the door so I decided I would publish it again so we could all check to see how we are doing a year and a pandemic later.]
Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened, but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:14-15
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
There is one thing I have to say about the global crisis that is facing us related to the current coronavirus outbreak that seems to be uppermost in everyone’s mind right now. The most important thing for us as followers of Christ is, yes, to listen to the advice of experts: be wise, be cautious, be safe — all of that is common sense — but more importantly: Do not be afraid.
Fear is one thing that must not be in the heart of a believer. Peter wrote not only to not be frightened, but not to fear what everyone else is fearing. In other words, don’t join the fear parade. There may be a virus epidemic brewing, but there is most definitely a fear epidemic going around, and it’s even more contagious than the virus. Fear is what we must guard against. The virus we can’t do a whole lot about, but the fear, we can. That’s because, as Peter told us, if Christ is in your heart, fear will not be. Jesus and fear do not co-exist. We are either ruled by one or the other.
Fear will kill our message faster than anything. How can we say our faith in Christ is real when we are gripped by fear just like everyone else. A heart full of fear says that fear is more real than Jesus. But if Jesus is Lord of our heart, then Jesus is in control of what happens to us, and we have no need to fear because He will never leave us or forsake us no matter what happens. Jesus puts reality on a different level.
So we have a job to do and a message to proclaim, and that job is simply to not be afraid. The gospel of welcome is far more important than any virus because it holds the answers to life eternal, and grace turned outward continues to be our activity in the world no matter what. Both are greater than any threat to life here on earth. We, therefore, have a major opportunity to display the reality of Christ in our lives. Don’t let fear nullify that.
The opposite of fear is not that everything’s going to be okay; the opposite of fear is that Jesus rules in our heart and works everything out to the perfect will of God the Father. And that’s what we want anyway.