Faith Over Fear, Or What It Means to Trust in God
Reflecting on the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Two Days after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 56
Old Testament: 2 Kings 5:1-14
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 14:13-25
Redeeming Sustainer, visit your people and pour out your strength and courage upon us, that we may hurry to make you welcome not only in our concern for others, but by serving them generously and faithfully in your name. Amen.
In Psalm 56, the writer sings,
O Most High, when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?
Trusting in God is an essential of faith. It is hard to have faith in God when we struggle to trust in God. But does trusting in God mean throwing caution to the wind and not taking necessary precautions in daily life? Does it mean walking into traffic without looking both ways before crossing the street?
While the Bible does say the fear can be an impediment to faith, some Christians abuse the slogan “faith over fear” to justify reckless behavior. Over the past couple of years, the slogan has been used to accuse Christians taking precautions over COVID of lacking trust in God. No vaccines—faith over fear. No masks—faith over fear. No social distancing—faith over fear. The reality, however, is that those who employ this little proverb do so quite selectively.
Do they own a gun? Why? Trust in God to protect you. Faith over fear.
Do they use their seatbelt? Why? Faith over fear.
Do they take medication for illness or a chronic condition? Faith over fear?
Do they go to the doctor with never before symptoms? Really? Faith over fear.
Do they have life insurance? Why? God will take care of their families. Faith over fear.
I could give more examples, but I have made my point. There are certainly times when we find ourselves in situations where there is absolutely have nothing we can do and trust in God is all we have. Yet, God does not expect our faith in him to make us quiet passive actors refusing to take responsibility for what we can do. That is not fear; that is using the brain God gave us.
Noah built an ark having faith that God was going to flood the world. Was he exercising fear believing God couldn’t deliver him without a boat?
David had faith in facing Goliath. Did he exercise fear in gathering five stones before his battle? Was he afraid that God couldn’t deliver him without his weapon of choice?
To trust in God also means to trust in the gifts God has given all human beings to make our world a better place. I trust in God by my willingness to take a vaccine developed by people who have the God-given gifts of science and medicine. To think I know better than everyone else is to fail to have faith in God who gives gifts to others. That in and of itself is a kind of fear over faith.
The writer to the Hebrews says that “faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). That is not a definition of faith that justifies abandoning common sense in favor of a notion of faith that the Bible no where embraces.
Years ago, I saw a poster with a representation of Jesus on the cross. The caption below the image read, “Christ died to take away our sins, not our minds.” Faith and reason are not opposites; they are interwoven with each other. We cannot have one without the other.
Let’s stop using faith and fear as reasons for being ignorant.
Check out more of my writings at allanbevere.com.