I've been working on a new book tentatively called NO FEAR IN LOVE. It's a book that takes a look at the way we allow Fear to drive almost every decision we make in developing relationships, faith, traditions, and keeps us from working from a place of confidence.
If I'm honest with myself, there are certain places I find fear emerge in my heart, Right? I mean I can act all tough like I have life together, but if I'm HONEST with myself and those around me, FEAR is a real part of human nature. We're scared of all kinds of stuff.
Fear can take so many different forms.
We can be fearful of spiders and snakes, so whenever they cross our paths we just pick up a shovel and remove the fear from our lives.
We can be fearful of health, so we take drastic steps to eat right and exercise to make sure we control the future of our bodies.
We can be fearful of economics, so we work hard, save like crazy, invest in the 'sure' bet, and set ourselves up so we never have to worry.
We can be fearful of our neighbors across the street who drive a shady car, or dress in a strange way, or even keep the lights on all night which causes us to wonder "What's really going on in there?"
My personal favorite study is the FEAR OF OTHERS.
In a 24 hour news cycle, we're exposed to the bias of FEAR all the time.
If you've been watching CNN for the last month, you're probably wondering if you should fly on a foreign airliner. Fear of Flying
If you've watched FOX, the fear of government is probably a part of your daily conversation. Fear of someone taking away your freedom.
If you're watching MSNBC, you're probably fearful of FOX NEWS, right? Fear of Fear.
Fear of THE OTHER is probably the most powerful. We tend to create tribes of people we know, we can count on their reactions, they hold the same values as we do, and the narrative begins to emerge US vs. THEM. It's our knowing of life against their knowing of life. It's our traditions that take precident over their traditions. It's our way of thinking that makes sense while they are the ones who are off base.
In 2001, I have to admit, I was fearful of THE OTHER; and THE OTHER had a clear label, ISLAM.
I watch each September 11, just like you do, and we all FEAR another attack from some extremist fanatic who is out to 'control the world,' or 'kill as many people as possible,' or simply threaten my own way of existence.
The first conflict of this ideology came when I was invited to be a part of The Harvard Veritas Forum in 2003. I was exposed to an environment where a Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew were asked to present their world views and what fueled the flame of hatred around the world.
And you know what I found?
People are People.
The same FEAR of THE OTHER in my heart was fueling the same flame in everyone at the conference. I found out Muslims have as much fear of Christians as Jews have of Christians. I found Jews had the same fear of Muslims that Christians had of other Jews, and I found that Christians were afraid of everyone. (O.K. not everyone, but almost...)
It's crazy to think about how many global conflicts are being fought primarily because we fear so much about people, and we really don't know anything about THE OTHER.
Most of us don't take the opportunity to leave our tribes of comfort to venture out and ask, "So why are all Muslims out to get us?"
Or, "What do Jews believe about God and His interaction in the world today?"
And maybe it would serve all parties involved to ask Christians, "What do you believe about God?"
Of course all those questions are variations of other questions, and many of you who are reading probably don't even ask those questions. But for the questions you do have about THE OTHER, maybe your fear can be put to rest if WE ALL take the time to sit down and ask about THE OTHER.
Sure, we all have differences. We believe God looks different, acts different, and historically behaves different thatn all the other views. We fundamently funciton from different worldviews. But we do have things in Common too.
We all want to raise our families well.
We all want to be successfull.
We all want to take care of our loved ones.
We all want to worship in truth.
Crazy thing is:
I've worked with Christians from all sides of denominational variables, and I've found often Christians FEAR other Christian worshippers.
I've worked with Muslims from all kinds of worship styles and country traditions, and I've found often, Muslims FEAR other Muslims.
I've even worked with my Jewish Friends, and found a cornucopia of belief systems that vary depending on what Rabbi a particular Synagogue emphasizes.
So even within the narrative of US vs. Them, we don't even really know who US is. So how can we even begin to try and come up with an over arching thematic view of THEM?
Christians Fearing Muslims.
Muslims Fearing Jews.
Jews Fearing Christians.
And all in the name of God.
In the Christian Tradition we read, "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7)
God is not a God of Fear.
If you say you worship God, and you live in a spirit of constant fear of others, you're not dwelling in the spirit closest to the Biblical definition.
Sure, God calls us to Fear Him, but that fear is one of respect, not cowering toward self defense.
God is a God who Loves the people on earth enough to come and dwell WITH us. (John 3:16)
God is a God who looks down on the earth and longs to engage with Creation.
Unfortunately, when we let our own bias or our own opinion shadow the reality of what is, fueled by fear, we reach a state of hatred for another. And hatred leads us to conflict.
I'm excited to write this new book about FEAR, and as I examine this complicated emotion, I'd love yoyur input. Who knows? You might wind up being in a book someday.