One Fear to Rule Them All

I’m a little angry right now so factor that in as you read this post.

Today’s entry was nearly titled, “Vous n’êtes pas Charlie,” which loosely translated means “all of you announcing on Facebook from your living rooms or from behind safe news anchor desks in America that ‘I am Charlie’ might want to catch a reality check. Most of you don’t have the stomach to tell the truth to your neighbor never mind risk the wrath of armed gunmen to stand for what you believe. You are so not Charlie.”

There I said it. But, I don’t feel better. It’s a sad state of affairs, these times in which we live. Gas prices are dropping but the cost of courage is on the rise.

Most of us don’t have what it takes to be as brave as these days require. I know I don’t. I was born scared. The list of things that frighten me grows by the moment and includes things that would make you snort with laughter.

Fortunately, one fear rules the rest. Because of that, I sometimes appear courageous to others when the truth is, I just have my fears properly prioritized.

That’s not true for everyone.

Recently, I spent hours embroiled in a crisis that didn’t have to happen. A family’s situation reached a heart-breaking boiling point because for months (years, even) well-educated professionals, decent citizens of the family’s community, even Christians chose to stay silent rather than find the courage to say and do hard things to protect a child. There was a lot of tongue-clicking, head-shaking, self-righteous whispering, and scornful stares but no one prioritized their fears enough to do the right thing.

I didn’t want to do it either. Funny how often “the right thing” is painful, complicated, hard, and requires a measure of sacrifice. It took self-control (compliments of the Holy Spirit) to keep silent when the others who should have acted thanked me and assured me they’d seen the problem growing for a long, long time.


Which is how I know that most people would not have the courage to do what the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo have routinely done. Whether I agree with all their opinions or not, I respect that they have the courage to communicate their convictions. To go public. To take a stand.

It reminds me of a passage from Revelation 3:15-17, “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.’”

That verse helps me keep my fears in proper order. Such proper order that I appear to have courage.

There’s a little girl in Sudan who has her fears in proper order. At 13-years-old, she was more afraid to take life than to risk her own by refusing to detonate the bomb vest strapped to her by Boko Haram soldiers. They tried to make her a suicide bomber but she took a stand.

It boggles the mind.

Most Americans won’t have to face that kind of choice and most of us won’t be called to communicate our convictions on an international stage. That’s a relief since most of us struggle to simply state controversial truths to the person across the lunch table at work or across the living room of our small group or over the pot roast at dinner.

We suppress basic truths that should be stated such as “I’d rather you didn’t share that with me as it feels a lot like gossip.” Or “Your lifestyle is affecting your child and either you need to make a change (which I’m happy to help you make) or I’ll have to speak to the authorities.” Or “No, I don’t believe there are a lot of paths to God. I believe there is only one and His name is Jesus.”

Ever stumble over words like these? Vous n’êtes pas Charlie.

Which of my fears rules the others so that I pass as brave? It is my fear of the Lord, my holy reverence for Jesus Christ. I may fear saying hard things, the disapproval of others, causing discomfort, or social leprosy but more than that, I fear letting down the One who laid down His very life for me.

Jesus’ words are recorded in Luke 12:4-5, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”

What about you? Are your fears properly prioritized? Does fear of the Lord rule your other fears? If so, you will find courage in the moment you require it. If not, vous n’êtes pas Charlie and stop claiming that you are until you’re prepared to take a stand.

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    The Conversation

  1. Brenda says:

    Amen Lori! Thank you for telling it like it is and eñcouraging the rest of us to do the same. God bless you dear sister.

  2. Carol Weeks says:

    That Scripture from Luke 12:4-5 scares the heck out of me. If I wasn’t already a believer, that would certainly help me to become one. Although we all have so many, many things to fear, I agree with you that we need to prioritize them. It really gives us a clear view to our Savior. Thanks for this new insight…

  3. Carla says:

    Lori, it sounds like your family is similar to mine. We have people who claim the Name of Jesus who molest innocent children, those that cover the sin up by accusing the victims, and crucify those who will not stand beside these monsters. It is time for us to stand up–DO we believe what we tell people–or is it just for show? May we all be able to say truthfully I am Charlie.

  4. Maxine D says:

    Have just re-read this Lori, and I still say ‘ouch – I am guilty of cowardice’. Thanks for the call to courage.