RESPECT: The Difference Between Fear and Caution

From my perspective, FEAR has been the predominant emotion in the GTA – and maybe the world, for the past 2 years of COVID. Frustration and anger may come in a close second.  So, here’s the deal; fear never accomplishes anything good long-term. Initially, it causes a reaction that helps us be alert and avoid immediate danger. But when it begins to settle into your heart, your soul, and your mind – it has a paralyzing effect.  If you’ve ever known someone with PTSD, you know this is true.
And that’s why fear is not from God. In our relational world, fear is destructive – because fear focuses our attention almost exclusively on ourselves and our own interests. That’s why, biblically, we say, Caution  YES, Fear  NO! Again and again, God has said over the years to people confronted by fear, Don’t be afraid – for I am with you! Caution shows respect for God and what He has promised – and for people who are usually the victims of our reactions. Fear disrespects what God has promised – and usually causes us to disrespect people. Fear does not lead to anything good – including being safe. The bottom line is that we do not have to be afraid! 


When God created people, He arranged them in family units.  The integrity and permanence of those family units was critical.  Jesus, with a background in carpentry, described this union as cleaving – or two becoming one. That is what hast to happen to create tables, chairs – or any large flat surface. And then Jesus said that the intent was, “What God has joined together, let no one pull apart.” We call it unity.
When boards pull apart, when plywood splinters and separates, their purpose gets compromised and people are injured by the sharp edges. Every good carpenter and woodworker knows that to keep things together, wood needs to be glued with really good glue – and then held together by really good clamps. The glue is intended to last even when the clamps are removed.
God intends for His gathering of people, His church – to be one! That’s the only way His Church can be useful and help people – or hurt them or let them down! The relational glue for all humans is love. The clamps are God and the community of others around us. God speaks, moves, gives us power and direction. Other people support us in living in peace as far as it depends on us!


Our temptation is always to chase being right isn’t it? Our ego always demands that. Right seems so… certain, so good, so biblical, so logical! I mean, isn’t right part of righteousness? Aren’t most people right-handed? We know that there aren’t many truths out there – where only TRUTH is the center line down the highway. Shouldn’t we find it? Somewhere in all of this stuff, the clear truth of the Bible is – to pursue peace. You may feel that you’re right – that you’ve got the right nuance, the right interpretation, the right methods, the right insight on Jesus.  You don’t have to give that up – if, as far as it depends on you, your pursuit is UNITY. And that will take some doing in a splintered world like ours where everyone has an opinion.


Most of us have at some point been the divisive person. And we actually felt fine about it – because, after all – we were biblical, we were true, we had convictions, we were… right!  Of course we were – and we were divisive, difficult, stubborn, proud, and maybe even rude. But it is okay to be rude, difficult and stubborn if you’re right… right? Wrong!
At an extremely critical moment in the early church, the moment that could’ve barred people like most of us from ever coming to faith and having our lives changed, the stakeholders set aside 1500 years of biblical history – and said yes to where the Holy Spirit was leading.
Interestingly enough, people who follow Jesus most often disagree over the Bible. And the Bible experts – then and now – the people who know the words, know the doctrines, know the nuances are usually the most difficult to deal with. After all – they’re right! And that’s why Paul doesn’t say (in words that come from Bibleland) “Let’s have a SWORD drill!” Actually, his first advice is, Be completely humble and gentle… Wow! If we’d done that – it would’ve changed history!