Fear Factor

    

I’ve been thinking alot about fear lately.  As a matter of fact, it’s what I talked about this past Sunday at The Gathering.  I’m not talking about just any fear, but the fear of living honestly before people.  Being authentic without feeling the need to alter who you are to please someone else based on what you think they want you to be.  Living that is as crazy as all that sounds!

Our culture has gotten to the point where living what used to be considered deviant lives is now the norm; it’s cool.  It’s what’s expected.  Living a life of faith in Christ, let’s face it, is not.  Now, to be clear, saying you’re down with Jesus is fine, so long as it doesn’t alter your lifestyle from what everyone else is doing; so long as there are no demands placed on your autonomy. Make sense?  To do otherwise takes a great deal of courage. 

So, I’ve tried to come up with how we can overcome this fear.  Are there the typical 3 steps  to overcoming fear of man?  Can I will myself to do it?  Is living an honest life of faith in front of everyone something that should just come naturally?  All good questions, I think…few good answers.  To each of those questions, I’m left with a resounding no (if I’m honest).  Though that third one is a little tricky.  No, it doesn’t come natural to me because I want to be accepted by other people.  That’s sort of the way we’re made.  Yet, shouldn’t it come naturally for someone who has come into relationship with Christ?  Ah, there’s the rub.  It should, but the key there is the word relationship.

Relationship comes through spending time with someone.  With that comes intimacy.  The more time I spend with Christ, the closer I get to Him and the more influence He has over me.  The old saying is that you become like the person you hang with the most.  True here.  The deeper my love-relationship with Christ is, the less room fear has in my life because “perfect love drives out fear.”  (1 John 4:18)  It’s like the old hymn goes: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim…”.  There is something mysterious at work as we focus more and more on Christ, there is less room to care about what other people are thinking about that relationship.

Did you see the movie Shallow Hal?  Hal gets to know Gwyneth Paltrow’s character and falls in love with her even though everyone else (especially his “best” friend) thought he was crazy.  The more he got to know her (even when he discovered what she really looked like), the less he cared about what anybody else thought.  Same principle.

So, is there a quick and easy way to get over the fear factor involved with living your life of faith honestly before everybody?  Nope.  It’s just like any other relationship: it takes time, effort, investment and intimacy.  But before too long, you’ll begin to experience a healthy case of apathy in regards to others opinions and a freedom to be exactly who you were created to be.

Agree or disagree?  Let me know.  Do you experience this fear factor now?  Have you overcome it? If so, what got you to that point?  I’d love for you to leave a comment here, since I’m sure others could glean from your experience or struggles.  Plus, I’d love to interact with you.  Thanks!