I barely enter the room and he starts wailing, throwing himself down on the ground and screaming irrational things about how he is gonna run away and his dad is cruel and the world as he knows it is no longer going to spin around the sun. He is scared of a needle, and that fear has hijacked any capability he might possess under normal circumstances to negotiate or even engage in conversation. He is afraid. Terrified. Consideration for others, rational thought, even public decency have suddenly been replaced by the Fear Monster, only to be regained when the monster is temporarily appeased or dumped in a deep grave.
He is dozens of kids I run into every week at work. But he is also men and women in our homes and workplaces and gyms and restaurants. He is the face behind Facebook posts I read every day. He is the policitians, the reporters, the political bloggers. He is you and I.
Fear is a powerful motivator. The Fear Monster can entirely consume, devour, then clothe a person in different attire: The Coat of Defensiveness, the Sarcasm belt, or even the trousers of Politicism. The Fear Monster can shut down conversation, taking creative thinkers and problem solvers and turning them into foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics. The Fear Monster can erase beliefs and values we have held and practiced for decades, replacing them with politic-shrouded rhetoric and shuttering the gate of compassion with a thud of finality. The Fear Monster does not listen to rationality, nor does he respond to the voice of grace. He is untamed, and he is powerful in his attempts to control men and women and children. Fear is the most powerful of motivators, and has found a home in the hearts of many over the last week. I declare he is no longer welcome, and I invite you to bid him adieu, too.
I have quietly watched in the last several days as fear has consumed and eaten and transformed men and women into irrational, terror-driven, foaming-at-the-figurative-mouth lunatics. I have quietly sighed and shaken my head as I scroll past Facebook post after Facebook post of fear-informed mumbo-jumbo. I recognize the Monster because I, too, have faced him. I have been chewed up and spit out by him, only to realize he never gets the final word anyway.
Friends, what the heck are we doing?! What voices are we listening to, that leave us so shaken and defensive that we lose the lense of compassion and creativity and problem solving so desperately needed in today's world?! I expect the Fear Monster to reign in the world, but not in Jesus-loving hearts! We have been freed from such badgering, no longer captive to (or captivated by) the philosophies of this world! You and I? Do we need a reminder of our past? We were orphans, the filthiest of the filthy, lost and hopeless. We were destitute, until Jesus brought us near by hanging on a cross and suffering unimaginable pain (and inconvenience, and loss of dignity, and relinquishment of position...) so that we could be called children of God. This same Jesus says we are strangers and aliens in this world, called to live in a way that is heaven-worthy and heaven-bound. As former orphans and current aliens, we have no reason to allow the Fear Monster to gut us of God-given love, compassion, and hands-and-feet-of-Jesus service. Fear is a powerful motivator (believe me...been there, done that control mind-game). But the Jesus that lives in you and I is victorious, not subject to the brokenness of this world. I don't know where you stand politically, and I honestly don't really care. I care about the voices to which you are choosing to listen. Are you informed by fear, or by confidence in your identity as a chosen, called, and kept child of God? Let's remember our heritage, the war Jesus already won, and the Home toward which we are headed. Friends, let's stand on the solid ground of our identity as adopted children of God, not wavering in the face of an enemy Jesus already defeated.
I beg of you...Let's not let the Fear Monster give us spiritual amnesia, okay?