Fear rules us. It’s in the driver’s seat of the modern family influencing every relationship, dictating every decision, and characterizing every circumstance.
We are afraid of:
Fearing these things and a thousand other scenarios, we do everything in our power to protect ourselves. We seek ways to avoid fear and to lessen the fears we do have.
The Home of the Afraid
Since fear is at the core of every family, everything is influenced by it. Fear is such a common characteristic of our lives that we don’t even recognize its presence or we wrongly diagnosis it as health or common sense.
In an attempt to ease our fears, we turn to four different aides in hopes that they can, at minimum, comfort us in our fears or, at maximum, keep us from experiencing fear.
- Safety. People experiencing fear search for safety. I would say the modern home is built on the foundation of safety. We want to do everything in our power to keep ourselves and those we love safe. While we can make wise choices and save ourselves from some dangers, we can’t fully make ourselves or others safe. Ironically, the more we pursue safety, they less safe we feel.
- Appearance. The foundation of the modern home is safety. The roof is appearance. We believe that if we can project the appearance of success, righteousness, and perfection that it will shelter us from many ills in life. Fake it until you make it is our motto. We often view fear like a bully. We think if we can stand up to it, the fear will have to run away. While we might be able to deceive our neighbors, we often can’t deceive ourselves. Trying to project something which we are not is hard work and it adds to our fear.
- Materialism. We attempt to find comfort in material things. We think that a nice house, good car, and fine things will separate us from the masses and exempt us from suffering. We think material things can protect us from some sorrows and soothe us from all others. But it can’t. Not only does materialism not save us from suffering, it actually can add to it at times.
- Power/Money. Because scary things often happen to us from those who have power over us, we believe that if we can be in charge, the amount of pain we will experience will diminish. We seek money and the power it brings in hopes of lessening our pain. While power might allow us to inflict pain on others, it does save us from experiencing our own pain.
These are the foundation, roof, and walls of the modern home. In them, we hope to avoid fear. But instead, these become the very catalyst of fear. As we seek relief in these things, they fail us. True safety can never be secured. Trying to keep up appearances is impossible and exhausting. Material things can never satisfy us. Power is a mirage.
We give all we have to these four things with the expectation that they will protect us from fear. They don’t. Instead, they add to it. The modern family has become the Home of the Afraid.
The Home of the Brave
In a dark and scary world, our homes are supposed to be the places in which we find comfort, rest, and the courage to face whatever comes our way. Instead, our homes often increase the very fears we are trying to escape.
Thankfully there is a different way. The modern home ruled by fear can be transformed into a place defined by love. Rather than allowing fear to dictate every aspect of our homes, we can be defined by love. Every action can be born from love. This happens when we give up the modern idols of safety, appearances, materialism, and power, replacing them with:
- Trust. The foundation of our homes should be trust. We trust in God and learn to trust each other. Recognizing the chaos of the world, we submit ourselves to the God who is sovereign over all things. We trust that he is capable of using all things for His glory and our good.
- Heart. The roof of our homes should not be outward appearance, but internal heart. We care about what is true and real. We desire to be changed into people of strong character. We worry more about our need than our image. Focusing on the heart demands that we seek and speak the truth. It empowers us toward transparency.
- Connection. Love can’t happen in isolation. We need other people to support us, encourage us, and challenge us. While fear drives us from others, love drives us to them. We don’t just need relationships. We need true, meaningful connection with others in which we know and are known, love and are loved. Connection gives us a sense of stability and place.
- Service. Not only do we need to connect with others, but we also need to serve others without expectation of reciprocation. We serve in order to express love, share life, and experience meaning. We naturally believe that service is something we are only capable of doing if we have left over time, money, and resources. We think of service as a luxury; it’s actually a necessity. Service fills us as much as it takes from us.
While the four idols of the modern family creates more fear, these four actions begin to free us from the control of fear. It allows love to replace fear. This is the Home of the Brave.
The Call for Courage
There is one striking demand for us to forsake what comes so naturally to us–safety, appearances, materialism, and power–in order to embrace what seems so contrarian–truth, heart, connection, and service. The demand is courage. It takes great courage to let go of what seems right in order to do something which Jesus says is right.
This is the need for the modern family – to courageously follow the way of Jesus rather than what comes naturally to us. But it is a courage we will never regret having.