In a video message posted shortly after the Russian attacks on Ukraine Mr Zelensky said, ‘fear always makes you an accomplice’ Whilst he is not a prophet in the classic sense Zelensky’s remark hit a nerve as fear is contagious. Where we live now there is a lot of fear: fear of the coronavirus, fear of escalating war, fear of the inability of making ends meet, so at the best of times many of us can creep through life fearful of losing our unstable happiness.
President Biden subsequently revisited the theme in a recent speech in Poland when he quoted the Polish Pope John Paul II who on his 1978 inauguration said, ‘be not afraid’ - it was a message that helped end Soviet repression.
Mr Zelensky’s comments about fear making us accomplices applies not only to the coercion encountered when we are bullied into doing what we don’t want to do but fear also prevents us opening ourselves to good inspirations, action, and service.
In his book ‘Les Misérables’ Victor Hugo spends pages obsessing over the battle of Waterloo. He struggles over what he regarded as an inexplicable French defeat, but suddenly emerges with the realisation and assertion that ‘God is the final arbiter in the affairs of men’ What an antidote to our fear - our heavenly father has the last word, and our duty is to position ourselves in the centre of His purposes for our lives and community.
In the gospel, angels say ‘Do not be afraid’ – fear, an understandable response if suddenly confronted by an angel, but this admonition is also an invitation to trust when faced with a challenging situation. Banishing fear is a theme God often revisits when dealing with His people - fear was not abolished with the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, but trust in His purposes is our antidote to that fear.
Christ invites us to be realistic and reajust our perspective when He also said:
So do not fear:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16 v33
And we read:
…’for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 NIV
The 17th century hymn writer Isaac Watts eloquently summarises this theme when he pens:
Should all the hosts of death
And powers of hell unknown
Put their most dreadful forms
Of rage and malice on
I shall be safe; for Christ displays
Superior power and guardian grace