Fear

The devil is the biggest bully who ever lived, and his most-used bully tactic is fear. We’ve been in the midst of a medical pandemic with the outbreak of coronavirus, but we’ve also been in the middle of a spiritual pandemic with an outbreak of fear. Many people are filled with fear that they’ll come in contact with the virus, contract the virus, or spread it unintentionally. Institutions are also filled with fear of misstepping in this malaise and soliciting unwanted criticism. Others may be consumed with fear of another sort that is exacerbated by what’s happening in the world. Fear and panic seem to be gripping more of us than usual these days.

I’m pleased to share that our MBCB Coronavirus Task Force has met and formulated a sound game plan for moving forward. The Task Force is made up of our three Mississippi Baptist Convention Board associate executive directors, who are Barri Shirley (Business Services), Ken Rhodes (Mission Strategy), and Michael Lee (Church Growth); along with Ken Hester, current Mississippi Baptist Convention president and senior pastor of First Church, Pontotoc; and Rick Dunbar of Madison, a medical doctor with a heart for missions and ministry who recently completed service as president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

One of the decisions made by this group is to reschedule all MBCB sponsored meetings and events that are on the calendar through April 4. In conjunction with this, we’ll not be planning any additional meetings during this time period. I’m fully aware this may inconvenience some, so we ask for your patience and understanding. We want to take a corporate perspective on this and do what we can to protect Mississippi Baptists.

In light of the mass fear that has swept across the world in the last few weeks, we’d all do well to remember that God is in control. If we truly believe this, we’ll agree with the Psalmist who said, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27.1). While we should demonstrate due caution in responding to any pandemic, we ought to manage our fear so as to prevent paralysis on any level.

The key to managing fear is ensuring that our fear is focused on the right object. While some might say that all fear is inherently evil, I’d take issue with this statement. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus instructed the disciples to fear the one who “can destroy both body and soul in hell.” In other words, we should have a healthy fear of the Lord. When we have a healthy fear of the Lord, our fear of everything else tends to find its proper place.

In the end, we should ask the Lord to help us make faith our default setting. We should pray that the Holy Spirit might work to help others see the power of the Gospel in the midst of their fear, and with our head high we should march out and face whatever the world might hurl in our direction in the power of our Lord. This is the simple truth!

The author may be contacted at simpletruth@mbcb.org.