Coronavirus—Conquering our fear

Mar 19, 2020

In yesterday’s blog, I encouraged readers not to become fearful and not to panic. More easily said than done, right? “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) Two questions arise: (1) What causes fear? And (2) what conquers, overcomes or neutralizes fear?

There are many reasons why one can become fearful. Let’s list a few and ponder which of these might apply to some of us at this time of the Coronavirus national crisis. Fear can be caused by physical danger, fear of lack of basic necessities for life, fear of punishment, fear of the future (i.e., fear of the unknown), and many more.

We could go on ad infinitum listing and discussing reasons and causes for fear, but why do that? Let’s “cut to the chase,” shall we? What we really want to know, and we need it now is, how can we conquer, overcome or neutralize our fears?

(Are we still “reasoning together” here?  …as opposed to letting our emotions—especially fear—run wild. We need to stay focused in order to prevent that powerful, negative emotion of fear from overriding our ability to reason.)

So, focusing now, let’s see…we could go online and find a gazillion opinions from learned psychologists and psychiatrists—and not have a clue in discerning which, if any of them, has the best answer(s). Or we could continue our quest to “cut to the chase,” and go directly to the divine Source of all wisdom and knowledge, the Owner-Creator’s operating manual for Planet Earth. There we find the answer in the apostle John’s first epistle.

1 John 4: 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear...

“Perfect love casts out fear.” Do we understand now? Someone answers, “Well, not really. C’mon, man! (Yelling:) We’re dealing with the Coronavirus here! I think I read somewhere that this could kill millions of us!...”

Okay, I hear you; remember, stay focused. Keep the emotions in check and we will dig deeper. Because, as with every part of the Christian Bible, there is an outer truth for the casual or superficial reader. They get merely a sip of divine truth. But, as diligent students of the Word of God come to realize, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2)

Therefore, let’s take a moment to analyze this gem of divine wisdom concerning fear from the epistle of John. In English, our word “love” has numerous meanings and connotations which must be understood from the context (and which confusion of meanings often leads to misunderstandings, especially in romantic relationships).

In the Greek language, however, there are four Greek words, each indicating a specific type of “love.” I won’t go into the details of that here. Only to point out that in John’s discourse on “love” in this chapter, it is only one type of love he has in view. It is the Greek word which we would spell in English as “agape,” pronounced ag-ah'-pay. It is not the sexual, erotic, physical or even familial, brotherly type of love.

Agape-love is the highest form of love. It operates on the spiritual level, which, when practiced (by and through the grace of God), governs the emotional and physical levels. In other words, the proper hierarchy in the make-up of man (and woman) is, or should be, the spiritual level governs the soul level (mental-emotional), and the physical (flesh-body) level is at the bottom of the trichotomous nature of man/woman.

Digging further down, then, our question becomes: If perfect agape-love casts out (or conquers, overcomes and neutralizes) our fears, then how do we achieve or practice this “perfect love?” And furthermore, nobody’s perfect, so how in the world can we ever achieve it?! Good question.

The word “perfect” comes from the Greek word meaning “mature.” Does that help? We do not need to be 100 percent morally perfect in order to achieve a high level of agape-love. So the more we can put into practice agape-love, the greater will be our ability to overcome fear.

Specifically then, what do we need to do or how do we practice agape-love? The words of the Master Himself, Jesus Christ, answered that question in His great discourse recorded in the gospel of John. This is the same John (son of Zebedee) who penned the epistle above. Jesus said simply:

John 14: 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

The word “love” here is the verb form, agapao, of agape,  Therefore, Jesus says that we love Him by obeying His commandments. Someone asks: “What commandments?” You mean you are going to pick and choose? All of His commandments. Remember when the Pharisee lawyer asked Jesus:

Matthew 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love {agapao} the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

 38 This is the first and great commandment.

 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love {agapao} thy neighbour as thyself.

Pretty simple, eh? We practice agape-love (and conquer fear) by loving God and loving our neighbor. Well, no, it is not quite that simple; we need to look just a tad further to discover how to agape-love God and agape-love our neighbor. Jesus answers that in the next verse:

 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Without going into further exegesis to prove the point here (I have done it in many of my Bible study lectures over the years), the bottom line is that God’s law—and that would equate to Jesus’ commandments in John 14:15 above—is summarized by Jesus in those two great commandments.

In other words, the ten commandments are all included in the two great commandments. Moreover, the subsidiary statutes and judgments given in the Old Testament (OT) books of the law are all part of God’s law.

Oh, did your pastor, priest, Bible teacher, minister or someone else teach you that God’s law has been done away with and “nailed to the cross?” If so, then in this they were grossly in error! I, too, was taught that on many occasions in the early years of my spiritual journey. But lack of time and keeping these essay-blogs in bite-size morsels forces me to postpone proofs of that to another time.

For today, I will close with this: If what I am asserting to you is correct, then do you see how this verse is one of the keys to getting through this present crisis of the Coronavirus?

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Our disobedience (nationally and personally) to His commandments have put us in this crisis—yes, I mean the Coronavirus crisis, and more, because it is larger than that!—and only repentance (turning back to Him) offers a lasting and complete solution!

Next time: More on ameliorating fear; plus, I intend to present several biblical examples showing close parallels to what we are presently enduring, and how we might do the same today!

Category: Current Events