Time once ran an article on phobias. It showed that there were literally thousands of things that people can have an irrational fear of. Apart from common things like insects, heights and confined spaces there were people who were afraid of roosters, fish, otters and even mushrooms. And what young boy hasn’t been afraid of that monster under the bed?
Humans often develop irrational fears as a way of hiding from rational ones. It helps them to isolate the fear in something simple with which they can cope, rather than the real fear with which they can’t. But what happens is that the intensity that rightly belongs to the rational fear is associated with the irrational one. Like the person who feels the fear of death (rational) every time they see a #OOPS#roach (irrational).
The most obvious fear is the fear of death. This fear is perfectly rational because life is very precious and we like to prolong it as long as we can. But facing death rationally means facing up to God rationally. Deep down we all realise that God, the creator of life is the only one with the power to do something for us after we die but we are a very proud bunch who would rather face death than admit to God that we need to be forgiven.
The thing we are most afraid of is matephobia, that is an irrational fear of what my mates might think if I got serious about God. The trouble is we have heard the conversations – even engaged in them ourselves. Rubbishing the church, ridiculing Christians, making fun of anyone who believes in God.
Having flown our flag so high up the pole we are not too ready to let anyone catch us lowering it by doing something as radical as admitting we might have been wrong.
It takes courage, but all the doctors who deal with phobias agree – the only way to cure people of irrational fear is for them to face up to it. Once you do that you realise that there really wasn’t anything to be afraid of.
This is also true of matephobia. In fact people who face this one are always surprised to find that rather than derision they sometimes get a little respect from their mates when they decide to make a stand for Christ.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
Now there is a fear that makes sense!