The Gospel & COVID-19: Part 2, Love, Fear, and Sharing

So, if the fear of death is the power of the devil in our lives, if we sin because we are scared, what are we supposed to do?

The text I focus on in The Slavery of Death is a text that's been getting a lot of attention lately:
1 John 4.18
There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear.
The issue I wrestle with in The Slavery of Death is that it's perfectly natural and human to be afraid of death. To put it like I do in the book, as "biodegradable creatures in a world of real or perceived scarcity" we're going to be afraid. So, following Hebrews 2.14-15, the psycho-spiritual struggle isn't the elimination of fear but emancipation from the slavery to fear.

You can have fear but not be enslaved to it. Because of COVID-19, we're all walking around with chronic, low-grade anxiety. That's normal and to be expected. Our spiritual work is to not be enslaved to this anxiety.

As I argue it in The Slavery of Death, love is the capacity to "cast out" fear as evidenced by our ability to make choices not dictated by fear. Fear is there, but we don't let it become the master, the ultimate reason for the choices we make. For example, if you share rather than hoard that sharing is evidence of "perfect love," a capacity to make moral choices that aren't being driven by fear and scarcity.

A story in this regard.

Sensing the rising anxiety in our town, Jana went to the store to buy some staples. So she's at the store because of some anxiety. Totally reasonable.

And the store, like your stores, was pretty picked over.

Jana went to the rice section to pick up some rice and found it all gone, all except three packages of brown rice. Jana picked these up and put them in her cart. Just then, a young Hispanic women came up and looked at the now totally empty rice shelves. She started to cry.

Jana asked if she was okay and found out she was a young mother, and that the only thing her son would eat was her Mexican rice. But now, with no rice, she had no idea what to buy or what her son was going to eat.

Hearing this, Jana offered her the three packages of brown rice she had just put in her cart. Touched by the gesture, the woman started to cry again. But she declined the offer, the recipe her son liked needed white rice. Still, she was moved by Jana's kindness.

Jana's offer of rice is a little thing during these anxious times. But it illustrates the point. Love is the capacity to "cast out" fear, to make choices, like offering your three packages of brown rice to an anxious mother, that are not dictated by fear. We're afraid, we're at the store shopping, but we're not mastered by fear. We can still share.

Sharing during anxious times is perfect love casting out fear. Sharing is an exorcism, how we break "the power of the devil" during COVID-19.

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