Much of our life is ruled (and ruined) by fear. We don’t take a risk for the Kingdom because we are afraid. We cower in fear over a medical diagnosis. We’re afraid to help a stranger because we fear for our own safety. We stay frozen and never move forward because we are afraid of what it might require of us or it might disrupt our comfortable pattern of life. When we strip away the pride and braggadocio, we are a fearful people.
I have good news! For those who are followers of Jesus, fear is optional. We need not fear anything. God is the embodiment of love, and the Bible tells us perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). In other words, whenever we are fearful, it is because we have chosen to be afraid.
Why would anyone choose to be afraid? I don’t think a sane person would intentionally ever choose to feel fear. It’s not an emotion anyone I know seeks to invoke. Most people avoid fear at all costs. We like our security and comfort, and we do what we can to avoid disturbing it. Satan knows that fear is the enemy of love. Since he hates love (for God is love), he does what he can to undermine it. The more uncertainty and doubt he can weave into your life, the better. Satan knows if he can get you to live in fear, you will not be living in love. Fear separates us from God because it cannot stand in the presence of love.
Fear is optional. We choose it when we choose to place our focus on anything or anyone other than God. When we focus on ourselves, we choose selfishness which leads to narcissism, paranoia, and fear. When we choose the things of this world, we see the evil surrounding us and become defensive and very afraid. We unwittingly choose to be fearful because we allow Satan to subtly seduce us with the pleasures and allurements of this world. In our quest to make ourselves comfortable, we actually are choosing to be afraid of the loss of the very things we seek: health, luxury, and comfort.
If we choose God, we choose love. If we choose love, we reject fear. To be afraid is to take your eyes off Jesus. Fear looks inward, while love is always outward bound. Fear travels within your own body, while love is always flowing in and back out of your heart. Whereas fear imprisons, love liberates.
God never wills for His children to be afraid. He desires your focus to always be on Him and for you to dwell securely in His love. When we choose God, we choose love and we choose life. Notice though, we must choose God. We must choose love. God will never force our hand. He leaves the choice to us. We can choose love or we can choose fear. Love is optional. Fear is optional. In which will you choose to live today?