“Fear Him who, after He has killed, has the power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” Luke 12:5
” Then God spoke to Israel….I am God, the God of your father, do not fear to go down to Egypt for I will make of you a great nation there.” Genesis 46:3
Fear is a popular topic with many questions. Should we fear? Is fear itself the only thing we have to fear? Some would say that there is no place for fear in anyone, especially people of faith. Others would say that fear is a thing that keeps us sharp; it is the fly or fight response that helps keep us safe.
Fear is also something that is very pervasive in our society today. Seemingly everywhere we turn there is a message or circumstance that should bring about fear if not outright dread. Terrorism is spreading throughout the world. Airplanes are falling out of the sky with some never being found. Climate change is going to cause civilization ending catastrophes. Throughout the world, everyone is trying to steal your identity and leave you in economic ruin. No place is safe to go where there are not mass shootings. Most everything you eat causes cancer in someway. Too much sun is deadly. Not enough sun is deadly. Understand I am not saying there is not validity to these statements, that is to say these things have not happened. It is more the messages of fear and seemingly helplessness that these incidents bring about is more my point.
During the time of Jesus, his disciples beheld, if not similar types of incidents at least fear inducing incidents. They were seemingly trapped in a small boat in a vicious storm. They were sent out into a hostile environment with a very controversial message, yet with no means to protect themselves, not even any means, like money or shelter, to fend for themselves. They faced off against angry crowds and hostile leaders. They left the comfort and safety of homes and families. One nearly drowned. Yet during each of these incidents and much more in His greater message; Jesus Christ would ask, somewhat derisively: “Why do you fear?” Jesus appears to make it plain that to have fear was a lack of faith. Jesus Christ seems to be telling His disciples in person, as well as the rest of us who believe through His statement to them, that to have fear is wrong.
What are we to make of this? There are some who would say just that; to have fear, fear of any type is a sin. They would further submit that any and all fear is a sign of weakness of faith and of spirit.
Hmmmm…and maybe that would be understandable. Yes understandable with all the times Jesus proclaimed and told us to “fear not!”. Except, Jesus Christ said there is one whom we should fear. Jesus declared there is One who is indeed worthy of and it is very appropriate to fear. For there will be those and unfortunately many who will not spend eternity with Our Heavenly Father. There will be those that, by their actions and lack of belief will be judged unworthy to be in the presence of Almighty God. Who has the power to decide that? Satan will not condemn the unbelieving. None in this world have the power to make that judgement. No angel or saint will cast out the damned. Our Heavenly Father has that power. As it states in the Book of Proverbs that the Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
I do understand dear sisters and brothers the paradox, the seeming contradiction, that we have a Loving Heavenly Father, a Father who loves us so much that He would give His only Son for our Salvation, and yet this same Loving Father we are to love in return we should also fear. That doesn’t make sense does it? Maybe not from a worldly perspective, but perfect sense from the heavenly perspective. You see to be separated from God is a terrible thing; well not a terrible, the most terrible thing. Also, to be separated from God is not our decision to make. In other words, we don’t have the power to decide that we are worthy or righteous enough on our own to enter into His Kingdom. No, we are saved by grace, His Grace. We are saved by His Gift, the gift of the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is not to us to figure out or ascertain the path to salvation. We have not the power to save ourselves. It is then obvious we must be in awe of He who has that power. We must be completely attentive to what it is He has to say. We must be in fear of Him and His power, causing us to minimize our reliance on ourselves, our wisdom, our plan our judgement and humble ourselves, calling upon Him to guide us. That One has that power is fearful. Thanks be to Him, to God Almighty, that He is perfect. We never have to fear that He will call on us to be evil, to be hateful, to be spiteful and uncaring.
God has shown us again and again, a thousand times again; that we have nothing to fear of this world. A small band of herders, on the brink of starvation during a worldwide famine can go to the most powerful nation and expect food and shelter for free? God says do not fear. That same band, centuries later can enter a promised land and destroy over 40 kings? God says do not fear. A man asks to walk on water? God, on earth says, do not fear.
Turn away from God, go on our own, trust on our own desires, deny Jesus Christ, hate all; God says fear. God says, in His Word, fear Me; for unless you repent, unless you accept my Son Jesus Christ, you will have no part in me. That is a fearful thing indeed.
Yet even that fear is out of His Love for us. A love that says fear no earthly power, for I am greater. God says: Love me, love my creation, fear being apart from me and what you fear will never come to pass.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, Your Ultimate Wisdom, Your Ultimate Power are humbling, awe inspiring and fearful things indeed. We thank You, most Merciful Father that You Love us and desire to never be apart from us. Pour out Your Spirit that we would be appropriately fearful, leading to wise actions in Your sight as well as a repentant humble spirit. That our confidence would never be in ourselves but always in You. We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen