The Fear Trap

April 26, 2005

By John Fischer

He who seeks good finds good will, but evil comes to him who searches for it. (Proverbs 11:27)

Here is a debilitating cycle that can easily capture and render us useless to the kingdom of God. It’s what I call the fear trap, and it goes something like this: a) Fearful people are always looking for evil. b) People who are looking for evil find it everywhere or as the Proverb says: it finds them! Thus proving their fears were well founded, so that now they are really afraid and quite capable of passing on their fears to others. c) Now a whole bunch of people are afraid and coming up with evil everywhere (“The world is just getting worse and worse, isn’t it?”). They are overwhelmed and desperate, and ripe to make two missteps: 1) give into those who are building a power base on the fears of immature believers, and 2) remove themselves further and further away from the world out of fear for their safety, thus losing contact with those who need Christ’s love and compassion through them.

How do you get out of the fear trap? First: Don’t be afraid. Easier said than done, you say, but this is precisely why we have the Lord in our hearts. God is love, and perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). No one could put it any clearer than Peter does in 1 Peter 3: 14-15, “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” Or as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “Don’t give the opposition a second thought.” You see when we are afraid; we are playing right into the devil’s schemes. The only way to avoid doing this is to let Christ rule your heart.

Which sets us up for the second way out of the fear trap: Instead of focusing on evil, which is exactly what the opposition wants, us to do, focus on the good. “The one who seeks good finds good will.” There is enough good in the world to claim our focus. I believe there is enough good in the world to keep us worshiping God all the time. Sometimes, the good isn’t obvious to everyone, but to the one who seeks it, it can be found. This is looking through the eyes of Christ, and instead of seeing the evil and fearing it, we see what God created us to be and what the world can be under His Lordship, and we can put our efforts into reclaiming that good for ourselves and everyone around us. Then we won’t be so susceptible to falling into the fear trap, and being manipulated by those who prey on the fearful.

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