I Punched a Raccoon in the Face

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- Bryon Morgan

Long story short, I punched a raccoon. Right in the face.

Days later, while reflecting on my instinctive response to this midnight marauder in my trashcan, my mind was brought to bear on the role of fear. In particular my attention was brought to the role of fear in the grand story of Life—the biblical story.

As it turns out, the command “do not fear”—or some variation—is the most common instruction throughout scripture. While one may justify my fear of nature’s ringtailed jack-in-the-box as only natural, it seems that fear is an instinctive human response when any of Life’s pressures are applied. And yet, paradoxically, God’s voice calls out, “do not fear!”

We often think hate is the opposite of love, yet God declares that love’s great opponent is actuallyfear! 1 John 4 explains that fear and love cannot coexist in the heart of anyone who seeks to follow Jesus (v. 18). Fear is born out of our natural selfishness and self-reliance. With it, we lash out with threats, punishments, and maybe even abandonment.

Love is spiritually birthed in us and grows in a life of selflessness and reliance upon God. Our instincts of love rather than fear demonstrate the maturity of our faith. And it is through love that we gain understanding of how to respond to the unavoidable pressures of Life. As Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best…” (Phil 1:9-10) 

Love and fear: either one or the other will dictate how I respond to the great pressures of Life. I cannot respond with both. Yet only one response is acceptable to our God. Only one response serves His Kingdom (e.g. Matthew 5:16).

Our modern world provides many issues that can illicit fear: economic woes, global terrorism, political balkanization, religious pluralism, immigration, unemployment, and so on. Daily we must make a choice—amid the din of Life, will we pay heed to God’s calming voice, “do not fear?”

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Bryon Morgan lives with his family in Williamston, MI.  An award-winning Christian educator and worldview specialist, he currently pastors as the Director of Church Development with the Colonial Village Baptist Church.  He also serves as a consultant for a variety of churches and nonprofit organizations across the United States.