Fear Itself

Fear has such control over most lives and most groups because it is hardly ever recognized as such.

Fear has such control over most lives and most groups because it is hardly ever recognized as such. It is normally thought of as prudent concern, common sense, deserved anger, or another "bottom line." The pattern is classic: Satan must be disguised as an "angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14). It is the only way that evil can gain control over us, since we all seek a positive self-image, and no one wants to think of themselves as paranoid, cowardly, or even slightly fearful—these do not fit the American, Christian, or successful self-image.

It is very telling that exorcisms, which are an "embarrassingly" large part of Jesus’ ministry, often have to do with forcing the demons to name themselves correctly, or to name themselves at all. Much of the work of spiritual growth has to do with "Saying...to those in darkness, ‘Show yourself!’" (Isaiah 49:9). Frankly, if one does not have a developed tolerance for truth-telling and humility about one’s real motives, this hardly ever happens. We remain largely fear-based, while thinking of ourselves as very moral. But Jesus warns against fear more than he warns against anything else, with the possible exception of hypocrisy. Fear is useless, he says (Mark 5:36). It distorts all perception.

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Sojourners Magazine October 2004
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