Considering the title of this week's blod, you can imagine my surprise when our guest preacher spoke these words last Sunday. As I jotted them down I wondered how he knew I'd been planning to write this week on the topics of fear, control & submission. And then I realized he didn't, and that I needed to watch fewer spy movies.
Here's something to think about: I believe the root of evil is fear.
Next I looked inside. As I recognized this tendency in others I began to see it very clearly in myself. Fear makes me edgy, unkind. In the absence of fear I'm peaceful and sweet as honey.
Finally, I thought about what Jesus said about the source of evil. At the time, I still believed Jesus taught that "money is the root of all evil," but now I know He didn't. What He said was "money is the root of all kinds of evil." The old translations didn't get it quite right. But still, that's quite a statement.
Although it's kind of long for my normal blod offering, I want to include a passage from a book called The Trifling Adventures of Grover Rodriguez, because it illustrates so nicely what I'm talking about here. I pick up in the middle of a conversation about the nature of evil between two college sweethearts sitting on a hill under a romantic full moon. She wants to debate. He has other ideas.
"So you believe that evil exists, right?"
"Of course," I replied, already ready to move on.
"Then what do you think the cause of evil is?"
"I don't know. I've never thought about it, but isn't it different in every situation?"
"I think it's fear," she whispered, ignoring me. "I've thought about it a lot since that thing with my mom. People are only harmful if they're scared of something."
I sat back now, and she put her hand back in her lap.
"Fear? Really? You think so?" I didn't know if I was bored or curious.
"Definitely." She moved into professor mode. "Give me some situations in which you think evil is involved."
"All right. Bigotry. How about bigotry? Why does the evil of bigotry exist, based on the Fear Theory?"
"Fear of the unknown. Fear of someone else coming in and taking away what you have—your livelihood, your home, your beliefs."
"Too easy. Challenge me."
"What about gossip? That's evil, right?"
"It is. And the answer would be fear of being disliked by others. Fear of being the one gossiped about if you don't do it first. Fear of thinking that you're the most pathetic or scandalous person around - so you make sure someone else seems worse."
"Tailgating!" I shouted triumphantly for no apparent reason. "How do you explain that scourge of society in terms of fear?"
"Well," she began, "if you were tailgating someone, why would you be doing it?"
"What do you have to be frustrated about?"
"The person ahead of me isn't going fast enough."
"Why do you want him to go faster?"
"So I can go faster too."
"And why do you need to go faster?"
"So I can get where I'm going faster."
"Grover, dear - you do see where this is going, don't you?"
I honestly didn't, but then I was only eighteen and had other things on my mind, so she continued without me.
"Is it because you need to get to work faster? You're either late—fear of being yelled at—or you need to get something done as soon as possible—fear of not succeeding. Maybe you're late for a date—fear of upsetting me!"
"Or, more likely, I just can't wait to see you," I crooned, feigning adorability.
"Fear of not having enough time with me!" she retorted."Hmph," I sniffed. At this point I was willing to let her win.
While fearful things happen to all of us, we are not obligated to experience fear. When fear hits us we have to act. But how we act is up to us.
And this is exactly what Jesus encouraged in His disciples when He told them: