Name Your Fear You Must
When Master Yoda said, “Fear is the path to the dark side,” he was speaking with a young student named Anakin Skywalker. He told him, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Tragically, there was much fear in Anakin, and Yoda’s words proved to be true. His fear led him through anger and hatred, and ultimately he was consumed by the dark side. Anakin grew up to become Darth Vader, a menacing villain whose mere presence struck terror into the hearts of everyone around him.
Fear is tricky. When channeled appropriately, it can be a life-saving motivator. When I am afraid of the saber-tooth tiger, I am fueled by this fear so that I can run away! Or when I am afraid of what might happen at a dangerous intersection, I draw upon that fear to energize advocating for safety measures to be created there.
However, when channeled in unhealthy ways, fear can also cloud our thinking and alter our otherwise sound judgment. And fear can be used by powerful individuals to manipulate behaviors in their favor. Fear-based political speeches have become ubiquitous. Corporations play on our fears to entice us to purchase their products.
Scripture has a lot to say about fear, of course. One of the very first things angels in the Bible say when they show up is, “Do not be afraid!” 1st John says, “There is no fear in love.” And Philippians tells us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.”
In one of the Star Wars novels, Yoda says, “Named must your fear be, before banish it you can.” If you can sort through Yoda’s backwards manner of speaking, you can hear the truth of these words. Overcoming our fear must be preceded by naming it. We cannot address it if we pretend it doesn’t exist.
This week, we will continue our series, “May the Force Be With You: The Theology of Star Wars.” We will spend some time thinking about fear, how it motivates us, where it leads us, and how we can together overcome it.
See y’all in church!