Saturday, November 14, 2020

From Fear to Love

Fear is a powerful but short-term motivator that responds to urgent stimuli. Love (in distinction to infatuation) is a long-term motivator that is developed by choices to acquire habits.

Seventh-day Adventists see in Scripture a cosmic conflict over the character of God: Satan claims that God ultimately wants compliance based on fear, but God really wants sacrifices motivated by love. Our view of God's character is bound up in our response to his call to love and serve him: Christians demonstrate our loyalty to God by imitating his self-giving love, thereby proclaiming our view of who God is.

When the shutdowns happened in spring, I wrote that it started a clock in people's minds that runs on fear. Eventually the fear would run out, and so would most people's desire to make sacrifices that keep our most vulnerable safe.

That prediction came to pass. The death toll is rising. We find ourselves caught in the “second wave.”

The coronavirus doesn't kill enough of us to make us afraid of it anymore. But it can put enough of us in hospital to threaten everyone's access to medical care. And if that happens, even more people are going to die from COVID-19. The premier of my province has said that if we don't stop doing two things that we are in the habit of doing—hanging out in each other's homes and going to work sick—we are headed for another shutdown in two weeks. The public health experts say by then it may be too late.

We now see how unreliable our natural fear-based response is during a protracted pandemic. Now that we have grown accustomed to the threat, we will find out whether we are a people driven by love or fear, that is, whether we can develop new habits that will allow us to carry on with work, school, church, and play and at the same time prevent us from doing the things that contribute most to the economic and physical destructiveness of the plague.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
     the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
     no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
     to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
     lest you strike your foot against a stone
(Psalm 91:10–11, ESV, emphasis mine).

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
     “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

      “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
          lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’”
(Matthew 4:5–7, ESV).

No comments:

Post a Comment