Ministry in a Culture of Fear

Sex still sells in our context, but I believe the prominent tool to get attention today has become FEAR. It sells, draws hits, and we seem to be drawn to it even though we claim we are tired of reading about it. We are fed it continuously from the vantage point with which we are aligned. We want to hear about the “others” that make us mad which drives us into a mindset of safety and security at all costs. It is as if we are addicted to fear. We almost crave it!

Guess what – Satan loves to feed this! He drives the wedges and creates the walls that make us look at each other as enemies instead of someone that God loves even with their junk. Just like He has chosen to love me with my junk. Fear that is misplaced is also a product of my sinful nature. Instead of a correct fear, that is first and foremost toward God Almighty, the prominent fears in our cultural context distract, dominate, and destroy our souls.

This fear explosion is also fed by our glorification of the individual over community, the superstar over the team, and “I’m good” over “let’s do life together.” We need help to deal with fear rightly, and God provides all that we need. The provision He has supplied is His Word and His Church!

Fear truly is a powerful emotion and force, but God repeatedly deals with it in Scripture. We are not left alone to deal with what causes our fears or what it does in our hearts and minds. We are lying when we deny fear – we do fear, but do we fear in the way God desires for His redeemed children?

What does the Word say about fear?

It is important to be aware that Scripture does not deny our fear. It just directs us what to do with it when it arrives. On a personal note, I have found that Scripture knows me and my world perfectly. No other book comes close! Here is just a small sampling of God’s Word addressing fear in our lives.

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 41:10

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?

Psalm 56:3-4

Immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. 

Mark 6:50-51

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.

Romans 8:38-39

The Church and Fear

What an opportunity for us to provide a different perspective in our culture of fear. Our common experience from the time we are children is that fear is diminished when we are with others. I don’t remember experiencing fear in the arms of my parents and darkness didn’t seem nearly as ominous when my hand was held by my grandpa. Life’s fearful complexities are lessened when I am processing them with my wife Barb.

Simply being alone can make us feel vulnerable. When I am alone and fear wells up in me it can be difficult to put danger and fear in perspective. I need help! The Church was created by God to help me see and understand things rightly. Christians were never intended to view being disciples as a “solo and private” activity. The Church is a community for each other, as well as, a unified voice of truth and invitation to those on the outside.

Social isolation enhances a sense of insecurity. The culture of fear in North America is a culture of individuality and disconnect. The Church is called to provide a counter-cultural option that is grounded in Jesus to deal with loneliness and fear.

I propose that God calls us to live as His people in a courageous community. This is God’s design to shape and equip you to be a person of courage in a culture addicted to fear. Paul tells us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). In a fearful world, we fulfill this charge by creating a community where we can share our fears, our risks, and our resources in a shared confidence.

Courage isn’t a complete absence of fear. It is the refusal to let fear keep us from doing what is right, good, and necessary. It is trusting God. The virtue of courage is much easier to form in community. Sharing life with each other keeps fear from dominating our minds and our lives. We learn courage together.

We are to be communities of faith, not communities of “maintenance” and self-preservation. This stepping out in faith confronts fear that finds our security in wealth and worldly power. In a healthy faith community, we find confidence because we share everything – fears and resources – so that all “needs” are met (Acts 2:42-47).

What a great opportunity we have to “risk” reaching out into each other’s lives. Instead of being dominated by fear, what if we trusted Jesus to live our lives delivering grace and truth?

In John 16:33 Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

What if we took Jesus at his word? How should this shape our churches in this culture of fear?

Nick Mundis - Director of North American Mission