We’ve been talking about the fear for these past few weeks as a congregation, looking at both Jesus’ invitation—perhaps command—to “fear not” and also looking at the anatomy of fear. What is actually going on when we experience fear?
Today we’re going to turn our attention to think about the sociology of fear: to recognize that fear is not just an individual experience, it’s a communal one. When we think about this communal aspect of fear, we need to recognize that the fears we are facing—the fact that we are living a heightened state of fear and anxiety—that is not new to this pandemic.
Fear is so prevalent within our society that people have begun to speak about our culture itself as a “culture of fear.” Fear has moved into the very heart of what it means to be a person in the 21st century. Fear has become the lingua franca, the commonly understood language, the way that we can all speak to each other. We speak to each other in terms of fear.
I was listening to one theologian who described fear as almost being contagious. In fact, there’s some really interesting research suggesting that human fear might actually be contagious—that human beings can pick up on fear pheromones from other human beings before we’re even consciously aware of danger. We all live in a state of heightened risk to excess fear, because fear permeates so many aspects of our daily experience.
If God is inviting us to not be conformed to that pattern, the pattern of fear, but to be transformed, what might it look like to be people who are transformed so that we no longer are a part (or aren’t a part in the same way) of this culture of fear? What if our lives had different organizing principles? What if we were drawn together by a shared vision of human flourishing under the good, wise, reign of God through Christ? That we were not people governed by fear?
I want to suggested three opportunities, three ways God might be inviting us to experience this transformation, having to do with questions of allegiance, abundance, and assurance.
Watch the whole sermon here: