Monday, May 3, 2010
Happy Monday everyone!
By now, I'm sure most of you have heard about the failed Times Square Bomb that police found in a smoking SUV on Saturday. As details of the potentially powerful bomb - that apparently began to detonate but did not explode - were revealed, my heart started pounding harder and faster. As a person who frequents Times Square, the news was unnerving...if not just downright scary. I received calls and text messages from family and friends asking if I was okay. My sister said I should move back to Philly because NYC was just too dangerous. All of these are normal responses to fear - and even among the most faithful of us, fear can be a defining aspect of the human condition.
Hearing about stuff like bombs, and earthquakes and plane crashes just sometimes makes you wanna stay home, not go anywhere, and live in fear. Fear is likely the source of most of our personal pain and the needless suffering in the world. Fear lies at the root of greed and aggression, racism, bigotry, trouble between neighborhoods, tribes and nations, and terrorism. We fear rejection and loneliness, commitment, failure...and even success. We fear we won't be able to measure up to others' expectations of us...or our own expectations for ourselves. We fear we may not be smart enough, tall enough, pretty enough, handsome enough, skinny enough, rich enough, or good enough.
We use fear as a buffer between us and the unpredictability of an ever-changing world, and it can be the very thing that defines us as a human being. But living in fear is not an option for me. As scary as the world can sometimes be, there's a better way of living.
God tells us "fear not" - He counsels us to "be not afraid" to alleviate our doubts. If we have no faith, from our fear of death comes all others. Fear shouldn't be used as a buffer between us and the world - faith should be. God impresses upon us that death is not final, so it need not be feared. He is always with us, walking with us, protecting us. Historically, the fear-preaching religions were the same that brought us the various religious crusades, jihads and holy wars. But where God is understood as LOVE, there can be no fear. Where God is One, there is no other.
I understand that just as pain has a purpose, fear also has its function. If we were totally indifferent to fear, it's likely that no one would have called the police to alert them of a smoking SUV in the middle of Times Square. If you see something, say something. Fear was the engine that drove that reaction, and would probably save lives. Fear is a double-edged sword that we have yet to get a handle on. While it has been useful to us in carving out the world we live in, it has also cut up the world, wounded it and cause it a great deal of pain. We haven't figured out yet how life really works and how we can establish peace within and among ourselves. While we walk around everyday convincing ourselves that we're strong and safe and secure, we're secretly fearful and nervous.
But there's a better way of living. There will be problems, challenges, even occasional catastrophes and tragedies. But if we look at the world through faith, we can deal with these things in a calm, still, peaceful center that we create within ourselves by looking to God. Perception is reality, and we can begin constructing the world we want to live in to guide us in our personal lives everyday. We have to believe it inwardly, and project it outward. We must have faith and believe it possible. Choosing faith over fear is a conscious decision to live in the present, with the understanding that no matter the circumstances, no matter what we are experiencing, the present is where God is.