What is Faith?
I like to define terms. I find it’s helpful if there is a common understanding for the meaning of the words we’re using.
Faith is trust. If you trust someone, or something, you have faith in it. You have faith the sun will come up in the morning and the earth will continue to revolve around the sun. You have faith your toddler will embarrass you at just the right moment. You have faith that the bank will protect your money. Some of our faith is well-placed. Some is not.
What is Fear?
“a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” ihttp://www.dictionary.com/browse/fear
I love this brilliant description of what fear is doing in our bodies from “The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviors”
“Anxiety is a psychological, physiological, and behavioral state induced in animals and humans by a threat to well-being or survival, either actual or potential. It is characterized by increased arousal, expectancy, autonomic and neuroendocrine activation, and specific behavior patterns. The function of these changes is to facilitate coping with an adverse or unexpected situation. Pathological anxiety interferes with the ability to cope successfully with life challenges. “ (The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviors by Thierry Steimer, PhD https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181681/)
When we feel anxious we are experiencing fear. Fight or flight. Survival mode.
What is a Faith of Fear?
A Faith of Fear is a trust and belief system that is rooted in the anxiety of fight or flight. It will be focused on doing all of the right things, for fear of what might happen if you don’t. It will be focused on trying to make everyone around you get saved, believe and do all of the right things, for fear of what might happen if you don’t.
When someone disagrees with you, your Faith of Fear will fuel a fight or flight response. You might start shooting out random Bible verses to try and prove your point and show you’re the one who is right and Biblical. You might attack the character of the person who is disagreeing with you or challenging their faith and their understanding.
You might be blocked from experiencing or expressing genuine joy and love
You might be blocked from experiencing or expressing genuine joy and love for those who think or live differently than you, because you fear they will end up in hell if they don’t change their ways.
These are all responses of fear.
What does God want for us?
God is love.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment; and the one fearing has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18
The fruit of the Spirit — the evidence that the Spirit is present in our lives — are laid out by Paul in Galatians 5:22-24
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Guess what . . . fear is connected to the flesh’s passions and desires. When someone has an emotionally charged response that involves lashing out and attacking anyone who disagrees with them, they are expressing their fear. Their passion is that they have to be right and their desire is to shut you down so they can go back to not feeling challenged in what they think.
Then there is the response God calls us to.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:24-26)
What does this have to do with “Christian Myths?”
Fear always produces a religion focused on power and control dynamics and leads to abusive dynamics and toxic beliefs. Love produces a religion focused on servanthood and caring for the least of these. Fear produces a religion of separation and segregation that breaks down relationships. Love produces a religion that unites and increases relationship knowing that it is in community that we grow and have the potential to become our best selves and accomplish what we were created to accomplish.
Fear is intolerant and judges everyone who disagrees.
Love accepts that people are where they are and knows that we are all lacking in our understanding so we are all benefitted when we extend mercy to one another.
We all have some Faith of Fear in our lives
Faith of Fear is the result of toxic religion. It is the evidence of not being perfected in love. We all have doctrines we’ve been taught that bring us fear, or confusion. They paralyze us and we don’t know how to respond. We respond to them with fight or flight.
It’s okay to ditch them!
When we reject bad doctrine we are not rejecting God! We are being freed to move closer to God!
We don’t have to be held back by other people’s Faith of Fear. And we don’t have to do it alone. Let’s tear down the myths and ditch the Faith of Fear!
Thomas Talks is about asking questions and engaging in open dialogue in an effort to answer them. Sometimes the answer will be, “I don’t know.” But that just means there’s more to study and learn. Then we can ask even better questions!