This past Sunday I talked during children’s moment about the variety of fears we face. There are more fears in this world than I can possibly list. Ablutophobia is the fear of bathing. Achluophobia is when you’re afraid of the dark. Omphalophobia is the fear of belly buttons! Ick! Anthropophobia is a form of social anxiety and the fear of the company of people. It was proposed that, perhaps, I have a fear of haircuts also known as Tonsurphobia. It would be more accurate, however, to state that I suffer from a mild case of Peladophobia, that is, the fear of not having any hair at all!
Fears are also ever evolving. As new technology and opportunities are introduced into society, somewhere in a lab is a scientist trying to come up with new names for new phobias. There is the fear of robots and artificial intelligence know as Automatonophobia. Nomophobia is the fear of being away from your cell phone! Leftoutaphobia is the fear of not being able to check up on your Facebook updates. (I made that one up.) Why are we so affected by fear?
Fears can be both a motivator and a crippler. There are times when we allow fear to consume us to the point of immobilization. I hate when that happens to me! I have so many things I want to accomplish, yet, rather than acting on my ideas or inspirations I let fear overwhelm me into doing nothing. I’m not sure if it’s a fear of success or failure, but I know that I don’t have much chance of either if I never muster up the courage to try anything. If I only set my goals to achieve nothing then I would be successful at it every time. However, nothing is not what God designed us for.
The fact that fears can also be a motivator is very dangerous and scary. Humanity is in a constant battle with fear mongering. Fear mongering is the action of creating a problem (often where one does not exist) in order to get a certain action or reaction out of someone. Webster tells us that one who employs this tactic is a person who spreads frightening rumors and stirs up trouble for personal gain. These rumors often are used to sway an opinion or making people feel like they must buy now, or join a select few, or they will be less important or left out. We fall victim to this all the time in consumerism, politics and media.
It’s no surprise that the words “fear not” appear in the bible 365 times. That is once for every day of the year! God knows how much our fears can stand in the way of us living a fruitful life. It’s one of the devil’s favorite tools to trip us up. Whether our fears keep us from acting on what we are called to or they motivate us to make bad decisions, we have to be intentional at recognizing them and giving them to God.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. Psalm 56:3-4a
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
So, if you find yourself Achluophobic and afraid of the darkness, you may want to get over your Ablutophobia and allow God to bathe you in strength and love. With God nothing is impossible!
Tate Monroe, Director of Discipleship and Development