By Jack Glover
The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted. (Prov. 29:25).
I don’t like being afraid. Call me a chicken, but I’m not into things that promote fear, even if it is the Halloween season. Many times, the source of fear is evil, real or imagined. That is why unscrupulous people can play on our fears for gain or other purposes.
I was only three years old when World War II began. I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember the blackouts. Even in the hills of West Virginia, when a blackout was called, all lights went out. For a three-year-old, and probably for adults, that was a scary time. “Is a formation of bombers on the way?” people thought. No one knew; families were just told to turn out the lights. Looking back, there was little for us to fear, but we did not know it at the time.
Times have changed. Now we live in a nation that is no longer protected by two oceans. Missiles and planes can reach us, and we have people living among us who plot to destroy us. Should we live in fear? How do Christians conduct their lives in such times?
If we look at the scriptures, we see that Christians have always lived in perilous times, often under harsh governments. Both the religious and temporal governments persecuted the first Christians. “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2).
Yet the answer they gave showed that their circumstances did not control their actions. “‘But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.’ … But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.'” (Acts 4:17, 19-20).
Does this mean the disciples never felt fear? Of course not. Fear is a natural emotion. Peter followed Jesus to His trial but was afraid to confess Him (Matt. 26:69-75). Joseph, who claimed the body of Jesus, kept his discipleship secret because of fear (John 19:38). Nicodemus came to Jesus by night (John 3:1-2). Sometimes early Christians failed to handle their fears well, just as we do.
Are Christians to support truth and righteousness at all times, even in the face of danger? Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.'” (Matt. 10:28). And Peter, having matured much since his denial of Christ, added: “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled'” (I Pet. 3:14).
Are the cares of life, and dangers, which come from war, governments, terrorists and other daily activities, going to cause us fear? Indeed they will, and it is right for Christians to be concerned about such things. We are instructed, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.'” (I Tim. 2:1-2).
In the past, Christians in our nation have had little to fear from either other religions or nations. We pray this will continue, but other great nations have fallen because of sin and their rejection of God, by disobeying His commands, while professing His name. Pray that all will follow God’s will. “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.” (Prov. 14.16).