Apparently recent research suggests that since the introduction of seatbelts and safety helmets there are more accidents and injuries, not less!
It seems when people feel protected they take greater risks.
When our head is encased in Kevlar we’ll ride our BMX or skateboard down steps, or indeed the bannister! When we’re belted in and surrounded by airbags we turn the music up and drive faster!
The result ironically is often not safety but tragedy!
One lecturer has suggested that the most effective safety feature in a car would be a large nail attached to the steering wheel. Facing the sharp reality of potential injury or death might make people drive with a little more care and respect!
Society in previous generations is often presented as harsh and repressive, instilling unnecessary fear in citizens, but some of us nowadays are asking if a little fear might not have been a good thing?
People today are not afraid to break the law, to speed, prosper from dishonesty, commit rape, adultery even murder. We feed on such things for entertainment constantly on TV and Internet with the effect we are no longer shocked or afraid. There is less respect for life, relationship, property, community. Encouraged by ‘friends’ in the ‘virtual’ world we’re developing a surreal existence where we feel safe to do things once considered dangerous, irresponsible and immoral.
In Biblical times these trends came and went as in every age. However the writers maintain that a fundamental element in any society that wants to practice freedom with safety and order is a healthy ‘fear’ for our Maker.
‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ (Proverbs 9v10)
So wrote Solomon, a King whose insightful judgement and success in government became legendary during his own reign.
In Psalm 36 King David lamented wicked people who practised flattery and deceit saying, ‘There is no fear of God before (their) eyes.’ It’s plain from the rest of the psalm that David’s ‘fear’ of God was not a snivelling terror but a deep reverence for the Creator and Law-Giver and thankful trust in the Lord his loving ‘Shepherd’ Whom he here calls ‘the fountain of life’.
It’s interesting to reflect on how Jesus, in the same breath as He reassures His followers of God’s loving care, warns them, ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One Who can destroy both body and soul in hell. (Matthew 10 v28)
Or what about the Apostle Peter’s first New Testament letter to fellow believers ch.1, a really upbeat passage full of celebration which includes, ‘Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ…’?
This kind of ‘fear’ prompted David, Solomon, Peter and countless others since to live life humbly but positively, seeking prayerfully to practice what is right and good.
These weren’t perfect people. Like us all they made serious mistakes and at times needed to beg forgiveness, but this general pattern in their lives definitely proved a blessing to them and those around them. Ironically it wasn't actually an altogether safe option as opponents reacted with harsh criticism, even violence!
But let’s think about it.
A little healthy fear. A lifestyle based on respect and gratitude, issuing in willing self-control and joy.
No bad thing surely!