The fear that seems to toxify our cultural ecosystem right now seems to be less about danger from an external threat and more about the terror of being “exiled” from one’s own “tribe.” That’s the reason people are retreating into their ideological silos. No one wants to be accused of talking to “the enemy,” whether that’s on social media or in the highest levels of government around the world.
Courage is grounded, in my view, in a sense of confidence and of personal identity that transcends what we see around us in this toxic time. That sense of identity is what propelled the Apostle Paul to overcome fear of everything from mob violence to execution by the authorities as he carried the gospel around the known world of the time. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?” he wrote. “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
We see the example constantly, whether in the Bible or in world history: The way to overcoming fear is for men and women of conviction to take a longer-term view than the present moment. Roger Williams [the Puritan theologian who founded Rhode Island] must walk out into the wilderness alone, for the sake of future communities living in freedom. A sense of loneliness now is often the key to flourishing community later.