Fear is one of the most effective motivators known to man. I’m pretty sure psychology would back that statement up. We live in a world that thrives off fear, especially as a way of gaining power over others. Politicians and political organizations on both sides of the aisle use fear to get your votes and monetary support. And all too often we give into the fear-mongering. We believe it when they tell us that our guns will be take away, or that the president will become a dictator. That there will be death panels deciding who will live and who will die. That if the other side’s policies are implemented, then the poor will be dying in the streets.
Fear is also used very effectively, maybe even moreso in religion. Hell has been a motivator for many people becoming Christians. It was a major factor for me, and I’ve lived with that fear for many years. It’s not just hell though. For just about every theological argument or position, there are arguments made based on fear for and against. There is the all too often employed slippery slope fallacy, that if one accepts or does not accept this doctrine or interpretation of Scripture, that they are undermining the authority of scripture and Christianity in general. Culture warriors are very adept at playing the fear card. Rather than an honest search for truth, they would rather stick it to the secularists. But this approach wins very few, if anyone, into the kingdom, and turns away many more.
The news media plays a part in fear-mongering as well. Constantly, we see reports of current events happening to make us afraid, whether it be diseases, or terrorism, or criminals. Largely, these fears are exaggerated for effect.
Of course, I’m not saying that there isn’t anything to be afraid of. Or that I don’t believe that hell is real, or that God doesn’t judge. After all evil is real. Some people just get cancer because they are unlucky. However, I don’t want to live my life in fear, especially in reaction to the fearmongering and slippery slope of politicians and certain preachers. I want to live my life with faith, hope, love, and reason. Perfect love casts out all fear. So strive to be perfect in love, not fear. Let’s keep our fears reasonable in proportion to the actual degree of risks involved, especially when things are not in our control. And next time somebody says Obama is going to become dictator for life, ignore them.
- Yes, I know that reason is not part of the trinity of faith, hope, and love in 1 Corinthians 13. But God is himself a God of logic, so I think we’d have to be able to use reason throughout eternity, so it must abide as well.