Right now (March 2020), there is a concerted effort in the world to engender fear. The specific vehicle for this activity is the appearance of a “new” virus in the world. Viruses are insidious little critters, as you know. They are hard to spot. There aren’t even any mug shots. Conversely, the “spirit of this age” is quite happy to share enough information to generate fear in those who will be fearful. This COVID-19 isn’t the first virus to come along with the implied threat that it will even cause the universe to reverse its expansive activity and collapse on itself.
It’s interesting how the fear message is spreading. News media and political decision makers are the main vehicles. The media does that anyway and states the reason is information – not fear. But the message is “be afraid and look at my face while I tell you that you should be afraid. And, by the way, keep looking at my face while I constantly bombard you with reasons to be afraid.”
Let me be clear. We should gather the information we need to understand the situation we are in. One of the aspects of the Spirit of God is a “spirit of knowledge.” The issue for us is the nature of the information we receive and how we acquire that information. Fear should not be a motivation for seeking information. Keeping up with things is a reasonable motivation.
In the political decision making arena, the message is “those other guys are mismanaging this and their mismanagement will be the actual cause of universal implosion. Alas, if we were the only decision makers, this would not be happening.” Let me be clear, this is happening all over the world. It is the nature of opposition-based democracy. The control of information is quite a factor in working through all this. In essence, the spirit of this age is in control of the public dissemination of information.
So, between the two primary sources of information, we may get the information we need but in a manner which is most likely to stir up the most fear in the most people. That suits the purposes of the dark heavenly powers-that-be and the folks who are the human controllers of information.
But we are not left to fear if we choose not to be. Rather, we are to be motivated by “(spiritual) power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Let’s look at that for a moment. Paul suggests that fear is in opposition to three things: (spiritual) power, love, and sound-mindedness. Is fear able to overcome spiritual power? Well, no not actually. Fear is not able to overcome spiritual power (Ephesians 6:12). In fact, spiritual power is designed to overcome fear (2 Corinthians 10:4). How then are we who are of the Spirit of God able to be fearful? Well, what is our expectation when we confront the news of the day? Are we fearful and wanting the news to make our fear go away? Do we feel that God is always powerful except in the current situation? If we start out in fear, then we may need to engage in spiritual warfare to overcome the fear.
Can fear overcome love? Of course not, when we start the discussion from a position of love and stay there, fear will not overcome us. If we start in the fear, then we are already fearful. The “noise of fear” in our spiritual ears may drown out the “voice of love” momentarily, but when we come back to love, the “noise of fear” will be of no effect.
The third implication from Paul’s instruction is that fear is an enemy of sound-mindedness. A corollary to that idea is that if we operate from a sound-mind, then fear cannot hold us. The enmity between them precludes being able to be both sound-minded and fearful. When we feel fear creeping up on us, we may need to pray for the restoration of a sound mind. If we cannot be both fearful and sound-minded, then we must choose between them. That is good news by the way.
Please understand I am not encouraging recklessness. Knowledge, understanding and wisdom come from the Spirit of God. They are useful to keep us balanced in a world in which the wisdom of God is hated and feared. The Israelites were told to stay at home and mark their houses when death came to the Egyptians. It was a kind of “shelter in place” consideration. But, let’s be careful. Dark messengers can tell us prudence is the same thing as fear. It is not. Prudence is of the Lord and fear is not.
Let us remain informed and also praise the God of heaven and earth that He is our salvation, not the evening news. At the same time, we are to render obedience and respect to political leaders because God has them in place for our benefit.
Keep out an eagle eye for fear. Take it captive when it shows up. Be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves.