The Ethics of Fear and the Unseen Force


"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding." - Psalm 111:10

Violence and fear is at the core of everything in this world. If it was not true then the fact of ‘Fight or Flight’ in nature would not be valid.” These were the words of my friend as we dug deeper into a conversation about our fascinations around violence in society. An odd conversation to have while at work I will admit yet, when God provides the opportunities to explore truth I never seem to back away. It becomes an honest question which I am continuing to ponder long after Joe’s and my conversation. Is fear and violence the soul driving force behind any natural relationship?

It seems throughout history that violence and the threat of violence is often used to control, manipulate, and set in motion the parameters of not only simple human relationships but national and international relationships. Whether it is a parent threatening their child with punishment for unacceptable behavior or a political or religious figurehead threatening ideological superiority with the mandate for social transformation; they all seem motivated by a theme of violence and force. Even I noticed within the context of Joe’s and my conversation it became less about the relational coexistence we have with one another and maybe more about the gnostic rights we possessed over one another. All of which fall prey to the illusions of false forces and mad men.

In a post called ‘Motivated By Fear of Love’ the author of The Naked Soul Blog says, “Fear in many ways runs this world and when fear is planted the crop that is reaped is all too often violence. Violence becomes the tool of those who live in fear because they have come to believe that is the only way they will be heard and that through violence they will make change happen.” I can't help but like the way the author has radically changed the identification of violence to being more of a resource which an identity or person uses rather then being an entity unto itself. It seems radically different from mainstream thought and takes the power out of violence itself and puts it perhaps more rightly in the abilities and choices which a person who finds themselves within certain contexts can make or use.


There is a story of a time when Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat with his disciples. Now the Sea of Galilee is about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide; so it was no easy journey for the time period in a little fishing boat. Like most of us have done on a long journey Jesus decides to get a little sleep and as the other disciples manage the boat a rather large storm arises and as the thunder claps and the winds blow, the waves began to crash against the sides of their little boat. The disciples begin to panic in fear for their lives as they shake Jesus awake. Jesus says to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26) Jesus didn't deny the existence of his disciples fear but; his concern was more for what power they believed that fear had over them.

Fear is an emotion which many of us encounter through much of our life; fear of failure, fear of unacceptance, fear of loss, fear of loss of control, fear of being wrong, fear of what others think - what others say, and fear of the unknown. But that does not mean our fear needs to drive us to fight or flight, nor to turn to violence in the hands of anger and manipulation as a tool for change. Rather fear can turn us to an expression of love and relational correction; one which brings mutual redemption, transformation, and a change that brings progression.

In the words of C.K. Tygrett in an article called ‘The Violence of Non-Violence’, “…the reality of our beliefs is that if they are to be true and authentic they must wear a human face. Someone will be affected by what we do or do not believe in. It doesn’t matter if you are a house church leader, an emergent church “contributor”, a carpenter, painter, etc. If there is a cause deep enough to found belief upon, it will affect another living being.

If there is one inevitability that exists in this world it is that change is going to happen to both you and me. That does not mean however that fear and violence is going to be the only way that change is going to come about. There is always the factor or factors of the unseen force between us, one which seems more inspired by love, grace, and compassion. I only hope that I might be part of that change.

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Phil. 2:1-11

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." John 3:16