It has been a decade now since the reality television craze began to inundate our homes. Before that time, entertainment typically involved a scripted plot complete with conflict, character development and ultimately a climax and resolution.
However, with the rise of reality shows, we have been given an unscripted look into people’s lives and just what they will do to make it on television.
After great success with a Dutch audience, Fear Factor filled NBC’s reality show market void in 2001. Known for its ability to disgust even the most hard-core viewer, Fear Factor quickly found success with millions of weekly viewers. From stunts to grotesque delicacies, competitors struggled to endure and overcome their greatest phobias, all in an effort to earn the coveted prize of $50,000.
When it comes to overcoming fears, we might all have to confess certain phobias of our own. A phobia has been described as “an irrational, intense, persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, or people. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject.”
There is agoraphobia, the fear of leaving safe confined locations; xenophobia, the fear of strangers; and arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. The number of phobias which plague individuals are limited only to our imagination.
But there are some practical fears to which all of us are tempted to succumb: the fear of man, that is, valuing the opinions of others higher than that of God; the fear of failure, believing that our success equals our personal worth; and the fear of the future, a choice to be anxious over the unknown and potentialities beyond our control. The list could go on indefinitely.
However, the follower of Christ is called to be filled with faith, not fear. Isaiah reminds us of God’s admonition, “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you … and He who formed you … ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine’ ” (Isaiah 43:1).
Here we are given both an injunction and an encouragement. We are commanded not to fear, which means that fear is a choice, a volitional response juxtaposed to faith. But we are also encouraged as to why we should not fear. We are both purchased and possessed by God. He has redeemed us, meaning when we were in slavery to our own passions and way of living, God bought us out through the blood of Christ. And in doing so, He has claimed us as His own. We are secure in Him who personally knows us: “I have called you by your name.”
The next time you are feeling anxious, fearful or consumed with worry, remember Him who calls you personally by your name, Him who cares for you so deeply that He has purchased you with so great a sacrifice.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
THE REV. KEVIN STEELE IS THE PASTOR OF NATIONAL HILLS BAPTIST CHURCH IN AUGUSTA.