Thursday, September 11, 2008

No Fear?

Everywhere you look these days you see the decal: “No Fear.” The motto has arisen from the generation of young people who are into extreme sports such as grinding skate boards down handrails and racing bikes down steep mountain sides. I well remember my own issues with fear. When I was in the fourth grade I jumped for the first time from a high dive at Ellenberger Pool in Indianapolis. In my senior year of highschool I flew an airplane for the first time by myself in Vandalia, Illinois. There is a satisfaction to be discovered when we face fear like that and overcome it.

But there is a danger in thinking that we can overcome all fear on our own. Ultimately it comes down to the fear of death itself. Luther complained about the moto: Qui mortem metuit quod vivit perdit id ipsum. “He is a fool who is afraid of death, for through such fear he loses his own life.” Luther goes on to say, “The advice might be helpful if man alone could replace fear with something else. But casting fear away like this is no different than the expression “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15.32). (What Luther Says, p. 364).

Christianity offers a much different approach to fear and especially to the fear of death. Don’t look to yourself. Don’t cast yourself off the cliff hoping to be lucky. Look to God. He alone deals with fear and with death itself. The Christian’s motto is not simply “No Fear” but “Love casts out all fear” (1 John 4.18). For more on the topic of the fear of dying see my sermon “On Being a Christian: Dying.

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