Fear is normal. Imagine life without fear. You’d walk into oncoming traffic. You’d swim outside the flags. You wouldn’t study for an exam and you’d spend your way to bankruptcy. While “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, a healthy respect for the things that threaten, harm, or hinder us surely builds on that wisdom.
Maybe fear is a prerequisite for excellence and achievement as well as a long life! Recently, a friend who was preparing a sermon on fear asked me what I was afraid of. I surprised myself (and him) by saying, “Everything!” I find, for better and for worse, that it is often fear that motivates me: fear of failure, fear of unpreparedness, fear of letting others down, fear that God won’t be there when I need Him. Fear, in moderation, challenges our apathy, tempers our triumphalism and makes us more dependent on God. It can be our unexpected friend.
It is arguably the greatest hindrance to cross-cultural service – and understandably so. Fear of moving into an uncertain future, jeopardising our hard-won career, accepting financial uncertainty, leaving support structures behind, risking failure and endangering our very life is natural. Fear can sabotage fruitfulness.
Yet God works despite our fears and this edition of Go explores the tension between fear and fruitfulness. Fear is real and necessary. Yet fruitfulness is promised and empowered. Interservers explore this apparent dichotomy as ordinary Christians seeking to be faithful to Christ amongst the peoples of Asia and the Arab world. Sometimes fear wins. Sometimes fruit flourishes despite our fear. Sometimes the fruit will only ripen for the next farmer. But God is always at work.