[Rector]

Fear debilitates

 

High Planes Drifter is a strange little film. It plays with the Biblical idea that the "sins of the fathers are visited upon their children unto the third and fourth generation." It toys with the idea that evil always comes back on us. An interesting idea, not always observable, but often true. At any rate, in the film the star, Clint Eastwood, runs an interesting line that gives us an insight into the problem of fear. He says, "It's what people know about themselves inside that makes them afraid."

Fear is a debilitating emotion. Obviously, we can't do without it. If we had no fear the human race would simply not survive. Fear makes us careful in dangerous situations and in that sense, preserves us from extinction. None of us would begrudge the place of such a useful emotion, but then our fears reach far beyond self preservation.

The fear that debilitates us can touch every aspect of our day-to-day life. One of the most common fears is claustrophobia. Not just fear of confined spaces - the nightmare of a stalled lift - but of the crowd, of people watching. End up at a party with a crowd of people you don't know and you are quickly looking for a corner to hide. When no corner is found, only liberal servings of a good social lubricant can deaden the fear.

Then there is the fear of being a fool. We all desire status, the affirmation of our person, of our humanity, our worth. Our need for the acceptance of others and their respect of us, can lead us to fear the loss of status. We often truncate our personalities to play it safe. The more insecure we are the more safe we play it. As I said, fear often debilitates.

Yet, what about Clint's line, it's what we know about ourselves that makes us afraid? In the context of the film, it was the evil within that led to the irrational fear of the townsfolk; it debilitated them and destroyed their community. The corruption of our soul leads to the fear that we might be seen for what we are, or even worse, that God might see what we are. Yes, such fear can take the wind out of our sails. Still, this is the easiest of fears to deal with. In Jesus there is abundant forgiveness for anyone who asks. "Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins", Acts 10:43.