How often does God need to say, “fear not” or “don’t be afraid” before we actually get the idea that as His followers we do not need to be afraid of anything? Apparently at least one more time than the hundred times He already has said it in His word. I have been struck recently by the realization that so much of what happens in the world of Christians is driven by fear, in spite of this clear message from God. Given the fact that we believe, at least in our heads, that God is the sovereign King of the Universe, I am amazed at how often Christians act as if God has no clue what is going on and that doom is clearly upon us.
That sense of fear and dread can even come over the strongest of Christians. There is a story told of Martin Luther that during a particularly difficult time of The Reformation, he sat in his study in despair. Suddenly his wife burst into the room and cried out, “Martin, Martin, all is lost, God is not sovereign”. Luther turned on her and rebuked her saying that she should never say such things because God would always be sovereign and on His throne. At that point she gently replied, “If indeed God is still the sovereign Lord and rules from his throne, why do you sit here in despair?”
Luther’s wife asked a great question. Why is it that so many Christians are the first to preach fear and run scared? I hear people crying out in anguish over the growth of Islam. I hear them bemoaning the economy and preaching the end of life as we know it. I hear people expressing fear over the uncertainties of life in the 21st century. I watch as parents raise their children in fear of the culture and how it might impact their kids development. I remember prior to Y2K, (remember that non-event) there were Christians literally stocking up on supplies and cashing everything in for gold, getting ready to hide out in their bunkers. In each one of these instances people were turning to some warped reading of scripture to justify the fear. Yet time and time again in His word God say, “Do NOT be afraid!”
Why does God tell us not to fear? There are two reasons. One has already been mentioned. We need not fear anything because God is still the sovereign Lord and that means He is in control. I love how Paul says it in Romans chapter 8 after listing a series of things that people might fear he says:
“37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We have nothing to fear because God’s love is so strong that nothing can separate us from it. The reason nothing can separate us from it is the second reason that we must not be afraid. Jesus promised that he would always be with us. We are never alone. No matter how desperate or dark the situation seems, you are never alone. When you have put your faith, your trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation, he promises to never leave or forsake you. I draw incredible strength from the fact that Jesus is always with me. To never be alone is huge! Even if disaster should strike, we need not fear because we have not been abandoned. If nothing else we know that we have a place with Him for eternity. That is what really matters.
The problem is that we are afraid for things that are temporary. We are afraid for our economic position, our reputation, our health, our happiness, our children’s comfort and safety, the list goes on. Our perspective needs to be a long view into the future. The Apostle Paul looked at all the things in this life, all he had gained and counted it as nothing more than dung compared to the surpassing riches of his relationship with Christ. If your hope is set on your health, then losing your health is a fearful thing. It your hope is set on your material things, then the lost of those is a frightening prospect. If your hope is set on your reputation in the community, or business world then having that threatened is frightening and painful. But if your hope is set on Jesus Christ and his promise to be with you always and it is set on his assurance that you need not fear, then you can be confident. You can be confident that no matter what the temporary situation is, Jesus has you covered.
So often we are afraid of the unknown. We may not know the temporary details. But we do know the permanent, eternal outcome of all things. We are victorious in Christ. On top of that we know that He knows even the temporary details. He is not caught of guard. Jesus has you covered and he is with you always. Fear Not!