What Jesus Said to Fear!
Jesus said some pretty radical things during his earthly ministry. One of them is found in Luke 12:4-5:
“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
As a pastor, I find myself tempted to almost apologize for and try to rephrase Jesus' statement here. Fear God? Really? B-b-but, he's a loving God right? He's merciful--right? And, after all, I'm a Christian so I'm forgiven and therefore I don't need to fear--r-r-right?
As I survey the landscape of our culture, it seems we fear everything else BUT God. We fear Covid-19 for example. Even though the latest variants of the virus seem to produce nothing more than a bad cold and the vast majority of Americans are vaccinated and boosted, I STILL see people riding around in their cars alone with masks on. We fear climate change too, even though there's plenty of evidence to suggest that warming and/or cooling trends are cyclical and have been for thousands of years. We fear killing the polar bears by melting polar ice, even though studies show the polar bear population has actually INCREASED over the past 10-20 years...etc....etc.
But do we fear God? Do we take him for granted? Do we see him as a nice old Grandpa whose commands or requests we can wink at, but not follow? Modern Christianity's answer to this is too often, "Yes."
There are, of course, legitimate fear objects in our world. Gun violence has increased and we rightly fear for the safety of our children and families. Inflation, food shortages, and other issues are cause for concern. Still, our focus, yes even fear and respect needs to be on God first. Do we take his commands seriously? Do we attend worship, tithe, avoid sex outside marriage, serve, and evangelize as part of our daily life? Are we respectful of our time with Him? Do we even HAVE a regular time with him via prayer and reading scripture? Is God a priority or an after thought in our lives? Jesus is clear that one cure for obsessive fear is to put the fear of God at the top of our list.
A healthy view of God's sovereign power will push other fear objects so far into the background--we may forget about them altogether.
You see, the good news is also contained in Christ's words found in the same Luke 12 context. In verses 6-7 we read:
“Are not five sparrows sold for two[b]copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
Yes, we must fear God and seek to do His will. But he blesses and provides for us. He loves us. So we're not afraid of Him as if He's an irrational source of pain/loss. Rather, we obey and worship Him, knowing it's His desire to do wonderful things that can and will change our lives--forever!
To that end,