When Fear Is Your Friend

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Who would have ever thought that in 2020, with all the medical advances we have made over the past few decades, a virus would bring our nation to a halt? Not only has it caused us to lock ourselves in our homes, and put a stop to our economy, but it has also brought fear to the world.

People all around us are fearful about getting COVID-19. Social distancing has caused us to stand further away from each other in casual conversation. Shoppers at grocery stores are avoiding each other in the aisles. People are even driving alone in their car, with masks over their face, fearful that they will somehow get sick in their own car. There is great fear in our nation.

Recently, I watched a video of Ray Comfort sharing the gospel with some girls. The girls were laughing at Ray as he lovingly shared the gospel with them. He got through his whole presentation of the gospel and ended with one simple illustration that went like this: “If you were going to jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet, why would you put on a parachute?” One girl answered, “To save our lives.” Ray then responded and said, “And your motivation would be fear. You don’t want to hit the ground at 120 miles per hour on your face.” Then Ray responded with these words of wisdom, “Fear is your friend in that respect, not your enemy.”

While listening to that, it hit me that we are living in a time where fear is on everyone’s mind. We are living in the unknown about a cure for the virus, about when life will go back to normal, and about life itself. Many people live with the question, “Will I get this virus?,” fearful of death. We know this to be true by the way people are living their lives. A friend just told me a story about a couple who has not left their house in five weeks because of fear of getting COVID-19.  

As Christians, we read Bible verses such as 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” and we do well to live a life that is not filled with fear because this spirit of fear is not from God. We turn away from fear and begin to focus on living our lives in faith. This is the right response that Christians need to have when faced with fear. However, we tend to cast-off fear as being a bad thing and forget the purpose of fear in life.

We are living in a time when fear has become our friend. This doesn’t mean that as Christians we live in fear, but we can easily use fear to witness to the unbelieving world. Fear is one of the motivations that God will use to draw people to Himself. There is a reality of eternal damnation in Hell, separated from God forever. This ought to bring more fear to people than COVID-19.

Jonathan Edwards used fear in his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Edwards said,

“O sinner, consider the fearful danger you are in! It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire if the wrath that you are held over in the hand of that God whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.”

Sadly, we live in a day where this message is not preached. Many pastors only give a message of health, wealth, and happiness if people will just invite Jesus into their heart. They say things like, “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” or “God wants to fulfill all your hopes and dreams,” or “God wants to give you your best life now.” We need to remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:41, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” Jesus taught a lot about the reality of Hell. We must use fear and warn people about the reality that they are heading to Hell without Christ.

At this point in an unbeliever’s life, COVID-19 is not what they need to be fearful of. They need to be fearful of God Himself because His wrath is upon them. All who die without faith in Christ will suffer an eternal punishment. Use fear as a friend to help those around you recognize their need for a cure. Not a cure from a virus, but a cure from their sin. As they are currently in a state of fear, use that fear to tell them of the good news of Christ who came to die for sinners and be raised on the third day to give them life. Offer them hope and tell them the good news that Christ gave to turn the sinner’s fear into faith. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The promise for all who repent of their sin and trust in Christ is eternal peace with Him. As they fear the reality of death, we can use that fear as a friend to offer them the hope of eternal life.