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Be Not Afraid: Updated for 2017

“Fear Not” appears in the Bible more than 100 times. In fact, the Bible talks a lot about fear. We are commanded to fear God and not His angels, not the world, not death, the list goes on. Why does God want us to fear Him? Because He wants our focus on what’s important, not the temporary realities (slings and arrows if you will) of living on earth. We’re inclined to be more concerned about our jobs, our financial situations, our health, kids, success in whatever way we define it, whether we’re loved. God has to remind us of what we should really be worried about – our heart and minds, our soul.

For a person struggling with anxiety, fear is a constant. It invades every-day thoughts. It’s an oppressive, unwelcome partner living only to sap a person’s strength, their contentment, their charity, and sometimes their sanity. It’s fear out of place and out of control. There’s nothing healthy about it. The kind of fear the Bible is talking about when it says Fear God, is not this. Not by a long shot.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee- be not dismayed; for I am thy God- I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (1)

Fearing God is to focus on the eternal, not the ephemeral. Fearing God is to put your Faith in Him alone, not in the authorities of the world, not in your pastor, not in your partner. Sure, you can have faith in institutions, leaders, and even loved ones, but they have feet of clay. When you put faith with the big F in these you are not fearing God. How can you be? You’re raising them up to have equal value as if they are as complete, as perfect, as powerful. And when they fail you, and they will, it shakes your foundations, making you question everything.

Is fear of God respect and reverence? Not quite. Think of it this way, God alone can save you from your sin, from your fickle heart, from your doubts, from your anger, from the deepest, darkest evil thoughts you pretend you don’t have. God alone. Being God-fearing is to remember that, to put your full faith and trust in the only being that can save you from yourself. If you’re not afraid of what you’d do without God, then you are mistaken. You, on your own, are not a good person. There are no good people. We are all lost without Him.

In our current political climate many of the popular preachers and leaders in Christian media are telling us to be afraid. They’re preaching fear of progressive politics, of immigrants, Muslims, liberals, gays, transgender people, leftist professors, anti-fascist protesters, or other, more shadowy groups. They are telling us to be afraid of our neighbor instead of fearing for our neighbor’s salvation. This is not the Gospel.

The Bible tells us what we need to fear and it isn’t anything of this earth. It isn’t anyone’s opinion, or politics, or sin. The Bible tells us to fear God. It’s time we listened.