Earlier this year our family made our first visit to a comic book store (actually initiated by my wife!). I admit to buying a few and checking them out from the library--I'm enjoying the stories of superheroes. Just as the first installations of recent movies like Spiderman, X-Men and Batman have contained a lot of moral lessons, so do the graphic novels and comics that these stories originated from.
I recently checked out some stories about The Green Lantern from the library. Fear is a central theme in many of the story lines. In some stories, the Green Lanterns (there are more than one, I have learned--each patrols a different sector of the galaxy) battle those who wear yellow power rings (there are other colors, too). Yellow power rings feed on fear. Green power rings feed off the willpower of their user. Green Lanterns were usually chosen because fear was not present within them.
Fear is a presence I'm noticing more as we live in North Minneapolis. I'm learning that fear thrives in the "rougher" parts of the city. Even without experiencing violence, knowing the stories and knowing people who have experienced it makes us be more guarded. I occasionally look at cars that drive by suspiciously, wondering what their intent is. After having my wife's bike stolen from the garage shortly after we moved in, we found ourselves checking out the bicycles that would go by. One of our neighbors has told us things we need to do so we don't become victims. I'm sure she's being helpful, but it's spoken in fear. And fear becomes hard not to listen to, especially with the amount of it on the television.
There is healthy fear, true. It gets us out of harms way. It keeps us reverent of God. But generally fear is not the mark of a Christian. We are told in 1 John that "perfect love casts out fear." If I am walking in Christ's love, I have no fear within me. That doesn't mean I'm not precautious or naive about my actions, but that I don't let fear motivate me. Instead, I let love. Or at least, that's what I'm supposed to do. It'll come--if I keep focused on love instead of fear. And when that happens, I can figure out how to love my neighbor, instead of being fearful--whether or not there is reason to be.