I was out walking one sunny morning, enjoying the unusually warm weather for a winter day. The light breeze felt good on my face and I found it very peaceful. I began thinking about the large amount of fear and anxiety that exists in our society today. What exactly is causing so much fear? More importantly, why are people choosing certain ways to respond to this fear?
I find that people are consumed with fear when they feel threatened. The perceived threat could be the result of something as simple as a ‘change’. Humans are creatures of habit, so a change in our routine, environment, or even what we may eat moves us into an unfamiliar territory, leading to mild or extreme stress. Not knowing what to expect can be as stressful as watching the change take place, and having to decide how to deal with the change. I find that fear, if left unchecked, can easily move into hysteria.
I thought back to Jesus, the Pharisees and the crucifixion. The Pharisees, a group of Jewish leaders that were fiercely devoted to keeping the laws of God, hated Jesus. Some of the reasons for their dislike were based on Jesus’s actions, but other reasons were based on the fear of what could happen. Jesus had no problem calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and scruples about the law. The threat that Jesus posed to their traditions was very real to this religious group. As Jesus’s popularity among the Jewish people grew, they feared His influence would also grow, which would threaten the security, prestige and income of the Pharisees.
The Pharisees had a cozy relationship with the Roman government and now Jesus was threatening to upset life for them all. So when Jesus committed the ultimate offense of blasphemy, an offense punishable by death, the Pharisees’ anger and fear turned into hysteria. Jesus proclaimed to be the Son of God. Do you know what this would have done to the status and authority of the Pharisees if the idea of Jesus being the Son of God permeated among the Jewish people? Case closed. Jesus had to go.
How many times do we let an idea or a thought drive our emotions to a heightened level? Often, our fears are backed with little substance – only a highly-charged imagination. The Pharisees did not have the discernment or faith to even consider that Jesus could be the son of God. Instead, they allowed their jealousy, anger and fear drive them to put an innocent man to death.
What things are threatening you today? Are you fearful of a change taking place? Do you feel like you’ve lost control and just want things to return to status quo? Once you discover the cause of your fear, you have a choice in how you react. You can embrace the change, grow and learn to appreciate the good in all things, situations and people. Or, like the Pharisees, you can remove anything or anyone that threatens your world or your peace, possibly eliminating that one perfect gift.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but (He has given us a spirit) of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” (II Timothy 1:7 AMP).