Discipleship & Fear: Fight or Flight

One of the things I keep running into when I speak to Christian audiences, especially when dealing with our Muslim neighbors is fear. This hearkens back to the nearly universal response to 9-11 when I was a pastor in a church.  I found people in the pew at church willing to go to war, almost as a first response to the danger and threat that seemed to be engulfing our nation. There is a danger when we allow fear to shape our response, especially as followers of Christ, to events in the news. The practical reason, apart from any discussion about Christian discipleship is that fear can cause us to respond irrationally. Our response, whether corporately or individually, can be misguided. We can miss important information that could guide us to a better response. Fear can also lock us out from any path toward peacemaking and reconciliation and add fuel to generalizations about the situation or the apparent perpetrator in conflict. Defending ourselves and security are not illegitimate needs. But when our response is predominantly guided by fear, we will often exacerbate a problem and add to a conflict. Afterall–an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth will eventually leave us all blind and toothless. I encourage readers to take some time to consider the following verses when dealing with fear.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Matthew 6:34

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Isaiah 43:1

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Psalm 34:4

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 94:19

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 118:6

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 27:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Psalm 115:11

You who fear him, trust in the LORD— He is their help and shield.

Psalm 112:1

Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Psalm 56:3-4

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:13

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Matthew 10:28

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Romans 8:15

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

1 Corinthians 16:13

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

Hebrews 13:5-6

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

1 Peter 3:13-14

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

John 20:19-21

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

 

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