Jesus repeatedly warns against fear (including worry). Why?
Part of this comes from the first commandment of the Old Testament. ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ When someone fears something, it is easy for them to put that thing ahead of God. So, instead of doing what God leads us to do, we do what our fear leads us to do.
There are some cases where fear is warranted and useful. In these cases, it is a call for action – there is some action we should take (a plan to make, something to practice, and so on), and so the appropriate response it to take the action and then let go of the fear. Usually, however, it isn’t warranted and limits what we can do.
This is why trust is integral to Christian practice. If you don’t trust God, but instead fear every little thing when it comes to your vocation or what God is telling you to do, you’re not going to get very far. Trust is the antidote of fear.
We say that ‘fear has a hold on one’, but the truth is more the reverse – we hold onto emotions of fear. The way to let go of fear in many cases is to literally feel oneself letting go of the emotion.
- Quiet your mind and reach out to God.
- Think of the fear. Now feel yourself letting go of the emotion of fear. Repeat this until there is no more fear present.
- Now, replace that with a feeling of goodness, harmony, love, success, and so on (whatever is relevant), for the situation.
This is a simple pattern one can repeat whenever one senses a fear that doesn’t have a legitimate basis (again, where it does, take the relevant action and then let go of the fear). We are holding onto it, and in the process making an idol of what it refers to. By letting go of the fear, we can more easily put God back into first place.