Fear Not!

Fear not!

I am always fascinated that Jesus’ greeting to people often begins with ‘fear not’ or ‘be at peace’. Maybe his actions and words unsettled, or even startled some folks. Today, we may find it strange that someone’s words calling for equality of gender, respect for all ages, cries for justice and a demand that power serves the people rather than the person exercising the power could cause such a fearful reaction – but maybe not!  Jesus’ actions and words expressed for all of these ultimately led to his death at the first Easter.

Jesus knew that his ways were against the grain of society, that he was asking people to look for a different way to love and care for each other. Ironically, in a society based on violence, fear and distrust the people seemed to fear him so much he needed to say ‘do not fear’. 

But are we much different from the folks of two thousand years ago?

We seem to have some very loud voices in the world today who say we should fear the people who call us to care for the environment, who ask we make peace in the world. There are many who say do not listen to calls for justice in society, who would suggest we walk past the injured, the dying and ignore the refugee. We are told to distrust, to fear people who are different from us, to the point that we become paralysed as a society; paralysed by fear.

Scientists say that a phobia can only be a phobia if it is a rational fear; peanuts are deadly for some folks but for the most of us, fearing peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth is irrational. Likewise, being fearful of someone else because they are different from us is not a rational fear.

As we move towards Easter and celebrate the gift of life, of peace, the call to love neighbour as self that Jesus brings through his death and resurrection, I wonder if we can hear his words to ‘fear not’! Might we also  refuse to listen to those who would rather we cowered in the corner in a dysfunctional, fearful muddle and choose instead to walk Jesus’ way of life—without fear!

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