The Gospel For Christians: Fear and Insecurity
A wise man once said that all sin is motivated by either pride or fear. The latter of the two grips the soul in its relentless vice, and as a puppet master manipulates a marionette, forces its helpless victim towards self-preservation, self-reliance, and ruthless insecurity.
In their practical out-working fear and insecurity know no bounds. Consider a coworker, fearing loss of reputation, who shifts blame to avoid responsibility for his failure. Or a mother who viciously controls her children to maintain “the model family.” Or a love-struck student who never acts on his feelings in order to avoid hurt or rejection. Or possibly a guilty conscience who, instead of confessing sin, broods on shame to escape judgment.
In my own life, insecurity and fear cause me to avoid risk and to seek control. I run from conflict because I’m afraid of relational fallout. I plan and re-plan my future to account for every career contingency. I obsess over outcomes in dating relationships because I’m insecure, afraid of what failure might mean for my life. Or sometimes I just play it safe because I’ve worked too hard to have to face failure. I either control my circumstances, or run from opportunities and people because I’m afraid and insecure. As a result, I live for myself instead of God, and serve myself instead of others. If you’ve been there—if your fear and insecurity have at any time mastered you—then you know the pain, the discouragement, and the helplessness.
Thankfully we are not left without a savior. Jesus’ message—that he died for our sins, was buried and raised—confronts fear and confronts insecurity.
Jesus’ message, his gospel, provides an antidote, a cure to fear. At first glance, the provision to conquer fear would seem to be courage—the heart to overcome. Others may suggest that Jesus’ gospel conquers our fear because Jesus provides an example of courage in times of hardship. He faced death and he overcame it. The antidote of fear, however, isn’t courage; it’s love.
Love always seeks God’s best interests, and always seeks the best interest of others. Fear and insecurity focus relentlessly on the self. Love would say, “I’ll do this because it’s what is best for him, or her.” Fear would say, “I’ll do this because it’s what is best for me.” This knowledge, however, only takes me so far. Convincing myself to love works on occasion, but eventually I’m bound to fail. I’m bound to fail unless Jesus’ gospel invades my life and dispels my fear.
The priority I give my fear and insecurity proves I think I have something to lose. “I can’t confront my co-worker about stealing; he’ll make my life miserable!” “I can’t ask her out because she might see how weak I feel.” Or maybe, “I’d better control everything about this situation so that I don’t lose face.” The gospel states that what I have to lose pales in comparison to what I’ve eternally gained.
Jesus loved his followers enough to die for them. In love, he sent his Spirit to work in his followers’ lives. His Spirit acts as assurance of God’s love and good pleasure, and directs us to eternal hope. In light of the very love of God which can never be lost, I myself am free to love others. I possess what I could not gain by my own means and can never lose—the love of God.
“Neither death nor life, nor angels nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
Why then should I fear life or death or angels or humans or future or past? Why then should my fears and insecurities ever prevent me from loving others? There is no heavenly reason why. Because God never takes his love away, I can confess my sin. Because God’s love means more than human approval, I can confront my coworker who steals. I can let go of those I’ve tried to control because whatever I stood to lose no longer holds sway.
And for once, fear and insecurity need not hold sway over my heart and my life. For once the vice loses its grip. The old puppet master proves a fool. And for once, the latter of those two great motivations to sin doesn’t stand a chance. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” 1 John 4:18.
Does fear or insecurity ever drive you into sin? Has it ever made you not act on something you knew to be right?
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