You are in a darkened theater. The commercials have ended and you’re watching the second half-hour of trailers. On screen, it’s a dark, misty night. Through a streaked windshield, highlights illuminate the lonely highway in front of you. The music starts soft and low but begins to build. You recognize this tune from the old “Jaws” movie - baa-dum, baa-dum, baa-dum. Louder and faster it builds. Suddenly, bushes by the road move and out jumps - a deer?
You’re not afraid, are you? Well, you should be! More people are killed each year in the U.S. by deer than by sharks. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History’s annual Shark Attack report, exactly 0 people died in the U.S. in 2017 from shark attacks. Yet, 120 die each year from car collisions with deer.
Fortunately, most car-deer crashes don’t cause fatalities. If they did, the population of Georgia would have been reduced to about 18 by now. Yet fatalities do occur, and other car-deer crashes injure drivers and cause millions of dollars of damage.
But nobody has made a scary movie about deer jumping in front of cars. It just doesn’t terrify us to see Bambi standing by the road nibbling dandelions.
There are other ways in which we may fail to fear that which is of greater danger. Jesus said, “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 soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Despite the warning, which do we really fear most - physical dangers or spiritual?
Our nation spends millions to warn against the dangers of driving drunk, but we seem to accept going home in a cab drunk. Which is really the greater danger, to crash a car or to wreck a family? We pass laws to protect against second-hand cigarette smoke all the while flooding the airwaves with profanity, promiscuity, and pornography. Which is really the greater danger, polluted lungs or polluted minds?
We secure doors with deadbolts and arm our alarm systems only to invite evil into our televisions, DVD players, and computers. Which is worse, someone breaking into our house or something evil slipping into our hearts?
The greatest danger to us is not from sudden attack by a shark – or a deer. Our greatest danger is a far more subtle, slow accommodation to inferior lifestyle choices. That, we should fear.