Growing up in the Deep South I was privy to all sorts of clever t-shirts slogans. Whether it was the Redneck Yacht Club, various Warning/high-Voltage shirts or simply a classy tuxedo t-shirt (which I have yet to own) there was no shortage of southern ingenuity. One of my favorite of these amazing t-shirt sayings was the now infamous, “Ain’t Skeered” (this of course would translate to ‘I’m not scared’). I’m not sure how much of a declaration this was as much as an answer to a dare, but for a while you would see it everywhere. It’s almost as if we all needed to reassure ourselves that the life choices we were makeing were sound. I wonder, though, is this a declaration that should be fit for those of us who carry the name of Christ in the 21st century?
You see, I think for a while now, at least those of us Christians who live in the Western world have been operating out of a marred paradigm. Honestly, we have been a little scared. We are afraid we could be attacked by a terrorist. We are scared we might get shot or robbed by our neighbor. We are afraid we may lose some of our rights. We are scared of our own shadow it seems sometimes. And I can’t think of anything more antithetical to the gospel. 1 John 4:18 says this, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” Perfect love drives out fear…hmmm. You know, in our tradition we have a synonym for perfect love: holiness.
So think with me for a moment. How does perfect love drive out fear? Well first of all it trusts that God is who He says He is and thus we really don’t have anything to fear (think about how many times God in scripture says ‘Do Not Be Afraid’). And on the other hand perfect love builds bridges instead of walls. It’s a love that reaches out to widows, orphans, oppressed, hurting, outcasts, unloved and tells them, ‘I am for you’. It’s a love that casts out fear because it unites us and reminds us all that we are all God’s children. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…”
I think this is where we need to start. Fear has no place in the Kingdom of God. We can’t be scared to see the work of Christ done around us and in us. We have to live out perfect love. This is the paradigm we should be operating out of and not that of fear. Ultimately all of us should be able to say that we, ‘Ain’t Scared’.