FEAR IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.
 
“No,” you say, “money is the root of all evil.”
 
Sorry, but the apostle Paul said, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).
 
So let me reiterate, fear is the root of every kind of evil. It is sometimes called by other names, such as hate crimes, racism, or religious intolerance. But the label doesn’t matter, for there’s not a single evil in the world that cannot be traced to fear. It consumes our time, confuses our minds, and controls our hearts.
 
Fueled by fear, Hitler and his anti-Jewish beliefs led to the holocaust of millions of Jews. The violence of slavery that gave birth to racism, a permanent stain on the history of America, vividly reminds us of the power of fear. The international jihad that resulted in the tragic events that took the lives of thousands of innocent people on September 11, 2001, is a stark witness to fear. The negatively charged political atmosphere and volatile anti-Islamic rhetoric currently fueling the media’s feeding frenzy are the fruits of fear. The prophesied persecution of God’s people at the end of time will be driven by fear.
 
We are slaves of fear because we were weaned on the belief that we must belong to a person, group, community, or country to be happy or secure. As a result, we live with intense fear of reprisal or being ostracized, and often keep silent or turn a blind eye to evil when we should protest.
 
In one African tribe, capital punishment consists of being ostracized from the group, because tribal members are taught from birth to believe that they won’t survive if they don’t belong to the tribe. They die soon after being kicked out of the community.
 
The act of being disfellowshipped from a community of faith once had a similar impact, and was often used to control or influence the behavior of believers through negative reinforcement. Much as we love and value the communities, the groups, the churches, and even the families that surround us, the gospel truth is that we don’t have to belong to anyone but Jesus, who has the ability to set us free (John 8:36).
 
Coming to this realization will make us blissfully happy, causing us to ride on the heights of the earth and be fed with the heritage of Christ (Isa. 58:14). When we are free in Christ, we become a terrifying force to the majority of society, because we cannot be controlled, cajoled, or manipulated, even with the threat of death (see 2 Cor. 11:21-33). Like Jesus, we may be threatened with false accusations, criticism, and rejection, but we will take the punishment rather than succumb to fear.
 
Jesus lived among humanity, full of grace and truth, to teach us how to cut the strings of fear. He wasn’t anyone’s puppet, even when the disciples tried to make Him take the crown without enduring the cross. He could say confidently, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6) because He wasn’t a “human doing,” but a “human being.” He taught us how to break out of the prison of fear and become fearless. He said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” then provided the antidote: “Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms” to give us a permanent place of belonging (John 14:1, 2).
 
If you’re already fearful, you can stop being afraid! And if you aren’t fearful now, refuse to let it have a foothold in your life. Remember, Christ’s “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). Another way to eliminate or eradicate fear is to realize that the cause of it is in us, not in our friends, family, or neighbors. Unaware of this fact, we think we will feel better, happier, and freer if they change.
 
But what we need is to love. Our illusion, our mistake is that we want to be desired, to be attractive or applauded. But in Christ we can be happy without these things, as long as we love one another in the same way Christ loves us.
 
We are, by God’s grace, His royal children—princesses and princes—free indeed to love, not fear!
 
_________
Hyveth Williams is a professor of homiletics at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan. This article was published October 28, 2010.





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