In this COVID-19 period, there has been much said about (or against) fear. Some react out of fear. They stockpile desperately, sanitise profusely, and become overly paranoid to the point of inconveniencing others. They avoid people, isolate themselves, and struggle to carry on with life. But some react harshly against fear. They are disapproving of the fearful and their actions. They are unkind to the fearful, and criticise them. They want to prove a point. In their hubris, they may reject taking necessary precautions. Their courage is actually a form of impulsive reaction. They may over-compensate and thus endanger themselves and others around them.
Yet fear is not always a bad thing. Proverbs 9:10 says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Matt 10:28 says: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” To fear God is to have a proper regard for God’s omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence and holiness and know that sinners are in real danger before His righteous judgement. Therefore fearing real and genuine danger can help us live our life right. As the hymn goes: “T’was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved”.
Fear can also be a gift from God. Fear is an inbuilt mechanism in each one of us, an emotional impetus that helps us to respond against imminent danger. Fear helps us to act promptly to protect what we treasure from danger. Without fear, we can be sitting ducks when danger comes knocking! Therefore we should not dismiss fear but process it prayerfully, asking God to help us to respond accordingly.
A brother echoed: “Fear is a reminder of our humanity, of our ultimate lack of control, of our need for God, that He is God and we are not.” Fear properly processed before God can help us depend on God as we turn to Him for the courage to overcome clear and present danger.
We need to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fear.
Unhealthy fear immobilises one before danger, disabling the person from being effective in overcoming the threat. Unhealthy fear causes one to be self-absorbed and enter into self preservation mode at the expense of others. Unhealthy fear leads one to irrational behaviour without the willingness to listen to others. Unhealthy fear isolates us and breaks down community.
On the other hand, healthy fear responds with courage in the face of danger and will not shrink from it or go into hermit mode. Healthy fear prompts one to protect what or who, one treasures. Healthy fear is proactive and not reactive. It looks ahead and works on measures to avoid or defuse danger. Healthy fear acts rationally, weighing the facts and consulting with others. Healthy fear unites the community. Healthy fear leads to faith-inspired actions.
Why then do we move towards a House Church model at this time? Fear or Faith? Perhaps, it is fear processed before God, leading to faith-inspired actions based on the following principles:
- Stewardship. We are concerned for the welfare for our sheep. Our calling as His under-shepherds calls us to protect them from danger.
- Obedience. Our obedience to God and His Word calls us to meet whatever way possible. Rather than uni-directional live streaming, we see that Small Groups will help us obey Heb 10:24-25.
- Responsibility. We want to be responsible to the society too. We want to practice what is proper, to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
- Opportunity. We look at the opportunities for kingdom growth. We see the chance for the church and each member to grow spiritually in personal, communal and outreach dimensions.
By Rick Toh, Lead Pastor/Elder (YCKC Bulletin 23 February 2020)