Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fear in Decision Making Part 1

Ever since I read this blog post on Faith in Fear by Jennifer Fulwiler a few weeks ago, I've been thinking about fear in decision making. She references two other blog entries; one about a woman who had an abortion out of fear of what her unborn child's life might be like, and one who was sterilized to avoid the fears of pregnancy after her fourth child.
Sadly, I think that decision-making based on fear is increasingly common as secularization sweeps through Western society. Some of the key tenets of the secular worldview are that this world is all there is, suffering is the worst evil, and each person can and should be completely in charge of his or her own destiny. If all of those things are true, then it starts to make sense to imagine the worst case scenario of suffering, and manage your entire life around avoiding it. Without a solid belief in an eternal afterlife, the redemptive nature of suffering, and the sovereignty of a loving God, it is the rare person who can engage in hope-based decision making.
I am not facing the joyful possibility of pregnancy anytime soon, but the article made me think about how often decisions really are made out of fear. Fear of what might happen. Fear of what people might say. Fear of whatever. And that isn't right at all. Fear prevents us from doing what we ought to do out of love. God is not fear - God is love.

What if Jesus had made his decisions based on fear? Imagine for a moment if He was scared off by what the Jewish leaders might think. Or if He had decided Satan was too scary to deal with in the desert. What if Jesus decided the cross was too terrible to bear before His arrest and simply fled, never to be seen again? God’s decisions are not made in fear. There was no thought given to whom He might upset. He would have clearly preferred to have something different happen. Pain avoidance isn’t a sin. But He didn’t let those feelings sway his decision to follow His Father.

What if Mary had made her decision based on fear? There was a very, very, very high chance she would lose her upcoming marriage to Joseph and even a risk she'd be stoned to death or thrown out of the community. People would definitely not like her much anymore if they knew she was pregnant outside of marriage. I can't imagine it being a stress free live being the mother of the God of the Universe. Talk about pressure. There would be a lot of things to be afraid of! Fortunately, she said yes. She said yes to love and no to fear. And then, she tromped off to help her cousin in her pregnancy. Unmarried, pregnant, and with every social reason to hide at home, she treks off to serve.

The Bible is full of men and women who did not make decisions based on fear. It is also full of men and women who did. The end result for the two groups is very different. Those who allowed fear to knock them off the course of following God never fared well. Those who followed God may have faced the things they feared, but they were full of joy here and confident in what was to come. Are we making our decisions for this world and our perceived comfort and safety here? We will not be safe and we will not be comfortable – even if our fears save us from something terrible, we still must live with the pain of our fears. If we’re living for God, then this life can be a lot happier and we can look forward to much better after this short life is done.

No comments:

Post a Comment