Fearless like a child

IMPACTS OF FEAR: ‘‘Fear is a defensive instinct in many ways, but when wrongly applied, it neutralises us from the good that we can do.”

AS AN ADULT, being told “You are just like a child” can have two opposite meanings.

On the one hand, it could mean that you are childlike, in the positive sense that you are simple, guileless, trusting and innocent.

On the other hand, it could mean that you are childish, in the negative sense that you are infantile, selfish and prone to tantrums.

It is a joy to be with adults who are childlike. To engage and work with them is like catching a breath of fresh air. ere is an energy and enthusiasm often missing in those of us who have been at it for a long time.

Then you also get immediate honest feedback. No worry of being stabbed in the back by them. It is easier to forgive them when they unintentionally do you wrong.

We can do with a bit more of that childlikeness, for example in evangelism. One of the greatest obstacles here is that of fear.

In many ways, a child is “fearless”. He will play with fire and sharp knives, not aware that he can be hurt in doing so. Much of the unhealthy “fear” that children acquire is instilled in them by the significant adults in their lives. Fear is a defensive instinct in many ways, but when wrongly applied, it neutralises us from the good that we can do.

When the angel appeared to Joseph, Mary and the shepherds to inform them of the birth of Christ, they were all told not to be afraid. Having got rid of their fear, they were then able to move on to the next step of what to do with the news.

In particular, the shepherds were childlike in their response to what they heard. Instead of fear, they had faith. “Let us go and see this thing that has happened.”
(Luke 2:15, NIV)

They went into Jerusalem, not to check the veracity of the angel’s message. Rather, they believed it had happened, and were going to see the child.

Then, in their simple and genuine enthusiasm, they “spread the word concerning what had been told to them”.
(Luke 2:17, NIV)

In today’s environment, there is an increased awareness and sensitivity when one feels that one’s religious space is being encroached. Simply chatting away like a child about an amazing personal encounter may be disarming yet acceptable behaviour.

The Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup is the President of Trinity Annual Conference.