No one wants to be known by his fears.
“Fear hath torment,” says I John 4:18 and it’s exactly right.
We naturally resist our fears. Some dedicate their lives to eradicating all evidences of fear. An apparel company made a fortune from a line of clothing with the logo “No Fear.” The fact is no one but the most foolhardy is without a certain amount of fear, because it can be a good thing. The fear of injury and death motivates most motorists on the interstate to take few risks. The driver with no fear is usually “under the influence,” as we say.
“Do not fear what they fear,” reads the NIV on I Peter 3:14. The NASB, the standard in my preaching (as well as among my teachers) for most of my lifetime, makes that “Do not fear their intimidation.” And yet the footnote says “intimidation” is literally “fear,” which would make it read “Do not fear their fear.”
So, there’s a little interpretation involved in this. Scholars clearly aren’t in agreement whether the Apostle Peter is urging believers to resist the fearmongering tactics of their persecutors or to live by standards different from those around them.
Both are true, of course. Each is a truth of the Kingdom.
But in this context and for our purposes today, I’m opting for the NIV’s approach. “Do not fear what they fear.” (Hey, it’s my blog. I get to decide.)
In our culture, people are far more likely to be known for what they love and enjoy than for what they fear and hate and dislike.
Take the city where I live. New Orleans has devotees around the world, people who love visiting here and miss it intensely when they leave. Ask them what they treasure about this place and you will be inundated by a litany of their loves: the food: certain restaurants or cuisines, po-boys or etoufee or boiled crawfish; the music: this hall or that club, this band or that orchestra or a certain singer; the parks: Woldenberg on the river or City Park or Audubon; the neighborhoods: Uptown or the Garden District or the Quarter; the history: the quaint streets of the Quarter, the treasures of the Cabildo; the museums: the Museum of Art or the World War II Museum; the street cars, the sounds, the accents, the list is endless. And the Saints–how could I leave them out?
It’s all about loves, not fears. All who love a city are usually bonded by what they enjoy most.
And yet, when it comes to matters of faith and eternity, there are two kinds of people in the world today.
Only two kinds of people? Yep.
You will know them by their fears.