We hear it over and over in the Gospels (and elsewhere in Scripture), from the angels, from the Son of God: do not be afraid! Fear not! Is it supposed to make us feel better? I often hear these exclamations portrayed as evidence that God wants to comfort us, or that Jesus was, above all, a nice guy.
But what if “fear not!” is not consolation but admonition?
What if indulging fear is sin? What if Christ was saying “do not be afraid that immigrants will take your jobs. Do not be afraid that the wrong neighbors will ruin the neighborhood. Do not be afraid that someone else will get a perk that you don’t. Do not be afraid that if you share what you have that you won’t have enough”?
I try to be understanding of people who on the surface seem hateful, and I try to see past the hate to the fear. I know that when I am at my worst it is because I am indulging the fear that I will lose my standing or authority or some privilege. Fear leads me to sin. I can’t be the only one.
We also hear throughout the Gospels that we are called to love, God and neighbor. Maybe “fear not” is the other half of that, because we can’t love when we are afraid.
How do you conquer the fears that keep us from loving well?