Well today was 10/31/11 also known as Halloween 2011. As this is written, the costumes been worn, the candy collected, and folks settled down for the night. My thoughts today have gone toward fears. One of the things that happens during Halloween is that things that are dark and scary are at the forefront. Sure, there are other costumes and focus on things not scary, but fear is part and parcel to Halloween. People got out of there way for opportunities to experience fear and startle. There are Haunted Houses our Hayrides. There are scary movies. Fear is central and even sought after. This is an interesting dynamic, for the variety of fears can result in several types of emotional or mental health issues. The purpose of this article is not to comment or extrapolate on the psychological dynamics of varied fears, rather the thoughts go to contrast two radically different categories of fear which I will label reactionary fear and reverent fear.
First lets understand reactionary fear. This is the fear that we all know and experience. It is what triggers the fight or flight mode of the nervous system. Reactionary fear happens when a real or perceived threat is recognized. Fear becomes triggers. Something happens that is an apparent threat and the emotion of fear occurs to promote action for the protection of self. These fears can be about a potential harm, loss, or blocked desires and lead to action that seems to be about the welfare of self. This type of fear can be result in retreat, avoidance, or aggression. This level of fear is common and pervasive and can be destructive or paralyzing. Reactionary fear by some is referred to as fear of man. Yet, that limits the level of fear. For there are a wide variety of threats to self that are not related to what mankind may do, but simply a function of a broken and twisted world.
The other type of fear is the reverent fear. Now you should be wondering what that means, what on earth is reverent fear. This type of fear is what the Bible refers to as the fear of the Lord. It is a recognition that there is something greater than you and that awareness leads to full sense of wonder at the difference that leads to submission. Currently we do not fully grasp such fear. In days of Kings and Queens the importance of reverent fear was daily, for the Sovereign of a Nation held ones fate, bring about a reverent fear that leads to a choice of submission or rebellion. There is no in-between; you are either for a Sovereign or against. Such fear involves faith, a trusting that the one in position over you that is greater has your best welfare in mind if you submit. A reverent fear involves a giving of self to that which is greater. It is a letting go. A person who experiences this type of fear is aware of prospects of growth when not dependent on self, of putting ones well being into the hands of another. Now, we do see this type of play in the world at large; responses to governments and authority are expected to display some reverence even if not worthy of it. In the Bible this type of fear is referred to as Fear of God or Fear of the Lord. It is a misunderstood concept that seems contradictory to God’s grace, however if you fully grasp what the Fear of God is about, it is what grace calls for, the giving up of self to that which is greater. Our reverent fear sets the direction to that which we trust and serve. Every sets a direction as Bob Dylan penned “You Got to serve somebody.”
There are questions this examination brings forth. What type of fear dominates your life? Who do you serve? Do you trust and surrender to God or something/someone else? What is greater in your life, reactionary fear or reverent fear? What does your awe and respect focus on? Do you avoid even thinking about Fear of God, as it brings the fear of consequences? Do you have a difficult time when under stress facing a variety of risks or suffering grasping that God is still greater? Take some time and ask God to shed light on your fears. Are you living in reaction or reverence? Is anything holding you back? Take time to examine self and see what category of fear dominates and takes steps to grow in reverence.
Filed under: Christianity