The thing most people have to conquer is fear in all its forms. It is fear that holds us back or motivates us into wrong decisions. Those decisions hurt other people or damage us. Fear is a major, if not the major, dynamic and the story of original sin. Adam hid from God in the Garden because he was afraid. (Genesis 2). Adam’s fear was not for a good reason. God had suddenly changed from his nature of holy love. Adam had changed. And the change in Adam was the result of the intersection of two realities. One: Adam’s God-given free will and two: Adam and Eve’s reaction to the serpent playing on their fear.
Fear does keep us healthy with good boundaries. In a sense, fear itself is not the problem. In fact, the Bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It is rightly understanding how to handle fear-how to live with it-we become better people. Often people fail to live into their God given giftedness because they are afraid of other people or perceived negative consequences. Imagine how much of God’s kingdom, power could be unleashed, made real in the world, if people weren’t afraid.
So what’s the answer? There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear, the Bible tells us in I John. Where in the world are we to find perfect love? It doesn’t well up naturally within us. Holy, perfect love, the best we are to and for each other comes only from God – the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of humanity and the world. God’s connecting love for us is part of us before we even realize it. We offer that best of ourselves to other people even when we refuse to give it God’s holy name. When we are committed to God and each other in those connecting sorts of ways, we are co-creative with God: culturally, socially, emotionally and spiritually.
In those places in our hearts and lives, the Garden of Eden is restored and flourishes, fear is kept in check and restful, playful life and work abound.