Greetings, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series, where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we seek to understand the fear of living.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Fear of Living
"These things I have spoken onto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulations: But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John, Chapter 16, Verse 33
Brothers and sisters, we know that we live in a dangerous world. We are mortal. Fear is no more than an emotional response designed to warn us of perceived danger. Perceived danger is different from actual danger. For example, if we are afraid of snakes and happen to be walking along and see a stick that resembles a snake, we are likely to react in the same manner as if we actually saw the snake. As we get closer and discern that it is a stick and not a snake, our emotion of fear dissipates.
Fear arises when we perceive a danger to our well being. Thus, fear of material things causes us to fear injury to our material selves and ultimately our material lives. Changing relationships causes us to fear our emotional well-being and the consequent harvest of depression and anxiety. Fear of our moral interactions causes us to fear our moral integrity. And finally fear of the power of God causes us to fear our spiritual lives and God. Fear always moves to protect us. When we sum up all of these fears, they equal a fear of living because life involves all of these reality states.
But how do we overcome this fear of living? We must first increase our understanding and gain wisdom. Understanding and wisdom can displace many fears by revealing the baselessness of some fears. But even after we demolish fears that come from a lack of understanding and wisdom, we still are left with some fears associated with living. It is helpful to separate the emotion of fear from its object in our quest to understand the fear of living. By doing this, we realize that the fear and the thing that we fear are not the same thing. Fear is our emotional reaction to the thing.
A child may be afraid of the dark, but some adults are afraid of the dark too. It is quite natural for a child to be afraid of the dark since it has very limited knowledge of what the dark may conceal. It is one thing for a person to be afraid of walking in the dark in a dangerous area and quite another to be afraid of walking in the dark in his own home.
The function of understanding accurately tells the self that in the safety of its home there is no need to be fearful (in most cases). There is nothing in the dark of our homes to be afraid of. The function of understanding also tells the self that walking down a dark alley in a known dangerous area is a reason to be fearful. There may be things in this dark alley that could harm us. The function of wisdom says in the former case that sense there is nothing in the dark of our homes to be afraid of, fear is an inappropriate emotion. In the latter, the function of wisdom says that there is a need to be afraid. When wisdom is heeded, we lose all fear of walking in the dark in our own homes, and we avoid walking down a dark alley in a dangerous area. In both cases fear is eliminated since the self perceives the danger to itself is now non-existent.
But we are mortal and our greatest fear is death. We are born with the urge to live, and the looming knowledge that we are going to die one day becomes increasingly strong in our consciousness. When we are young, death seems very far off, so far that we temporarily forget about it. As we grow older and older the consciousness of death returns with a vengeance. There is only one antidote to this fear of living, and it is the realization that though we are mortal and are subject to all the things that happen to beings who are mortal, we can transcend this mortal limitation by the technique of doing the Father’’s will, creating a soul that can survive mortal death. This eliminates the fear of mortal death. By doing the Father’’s will, we become conscious of this great truth.
We can separate the fear from its object. And when we do this we discover that the fear-forecasts greatly exceeded the object of our fear. We need an effective philosophy for living, one that includes a growing spiritual natures. "An effective philosophy of living is formed by a combination of cosmic insight and the total of one's emotional reactions to the social and economic environment. Remember: While inherited urges cannot be fundamentally modified, emotional responses to such urges can be changed; therefore the moral nature can be modified, character can be improved. In the strong character emotional responses are integrated and co-ordinated, and thus is produced a unified personality. Deficient unification weakens the moral nature and engenders unhappiness."
But how do we integrate and coordinate our emotional responses? When we are confronted with a situation that requires action, we are urged to make a decision. We can make this decision based on our fears or based on our highest understanding and wisdom. If we choose the latter, our emotions remain separate from our understanding and wisdom. They are not integrated. When we make a decision based on our understanding and wisdom, they become integrated, and we make a strong decision based upon reason. Our emotions become coordinated with our decision-making when we subordinate them to our reasoning and when we choose the correct emotional response to our decision. Thus, rather than choosing fear, we choose courage.
Again, the technique of doing the Father’’s will accomplishes this for us. One of our greatest training aides, as well as the most potent stimulus for growth, is doing the Father’’s will. When we choose the Father’’s will, we choose the decision of the highest value, the decision reflective of our highest understanding and wisdom. This is always the Father’’s will. As we grow spiritually and morally, the level of our understanding and wisdom continues to rise, as reflected in the quality of our decisions.
It is against our emotional natures to choose the Father’’s will, but persistent and consistent choices cause the emotions to align with our decisions based on our choice for the Father’’s will. It is like iron fillets being placed in a strong magnetic field. They will align themselves with the magnetic field. The consistent and persistent choosing of the Father’’s will has the sure effect of training our emotions to support the decision we have chosen. The result of the constant choice of the Father’’s will is growth.
Consider this analogy. My neighbor’’s kids were playing outside one day as I went for a stroll. They were going to show me how well they could ride their bicycles. When last observed the youngest of them could not ride his bicycle without training wheels; this day not only was he able to ride without them, he could ride very fast. He literally zoomed down the hill, full of glee. He had no fear at all. He had grown.
We do face so many conflicting choices. At such times, our understanding and wisdom seem inadequate for the task. In such circumstances, our emotions detach from our understanding and wisdom and lead us to make decisions based on fear. We must not abandon our desire to do the Father’’s will; rather, in the very face of the conflict, we should exert our desire to do His will. In doing so, we maintain the integrity and thus integration of our emotions to the highest level of understanding and wisdom we possess.
But how do we know in the face of such ambiguities that we are in fact choosing the Father’’s will,
choosing the highest level of understanding and wisdom that we posses? We possess understanding and wisdom of which we are not conscious. There is a guide that will guide us through the complex decision-making. And this guide is the Spirit of Truth, the spirit of Jesus and by following the Spirit of Truth, we are guided through the complex process of choosing the Father’’s will.
How do we follow this Spirit of Truth?
Our souls have the capacity to follow this Spirit of Truth if that is our true desire. Consider this analogy. This morning when I went out for my walk, I was greeted by my neighbor’’s dog and her two puppies. Now as I walked, and the dog walked more or less beside me, I noticed that whatever the mother did, the puppies did also. They followed every move the mother dog made. When she wandered to the side, they wandered to the side. When she ran ahead, they ran ahead, and when she fell behind they fell behind. In this way, they were able to do exactly what she did as long as they followed her. She was their guide.
The Spirit of Truth also reinforces our desire to do the Father’’s will. It imparts courage that allows us boldly to confront and defeat the fear issues in our lives. It allows us to comply with the mandates of progress: To be perfect even as the heavenly Father is perfect.
This concludes today's message on understanding the fear of living. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.