Today, I’d like to talk about a four-letter word that starts with F.
In secular circles, some journalists and scholars accuse the ‘puppetmasters of society’ of cultivating a culture of fear, to manipulate the masses into allowing them to carry out their unsavoury political agendas.
Texas megapastor Max Lucado wrote a whole book about fear, in which he held it up as one of the principal villains in the story of our lives.
“Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that. But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors. Wouldn’t it be great to walk out?” – from the book Fearless (2009)
Lucado’s thoughts on the topic are very much in keeping with the famous quote from the 1933 inauguration of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
And they’re also, not surprisingly, quite consistent with what the Bible has to say about fear.
Is there a more prevalent theme in the Bible than fear? And in how many passages in the Good Book does God urge one or more of His people, in so many words or their synonyms, not to be afraid? Dozens. And in how many Bible verses is the challenge/command implied?
Maybe all of them.
I wrote that paragraph about a year and a half ago, in my Be Not Afear’d entry, and I stand by it. The Bible is most decidedly anti-fear. There are literally dozens of great quotes about fear in the Good Book, but my favourite is 1 John 4:18:
No fear in love, because perfect love drives out fear. It’s as if the passage is saying that love and fear cannot inhabit the same space. Fear and faith are like matter and anti-matter, or maybe more like darkness and light: they physically cannot coexist.
The Bible is also chock full of verses commanding us to fear God. Here are a few:
- Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 25:17
- He (Uzziah) sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success. 2 Chronicles 25:5
- God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change — he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God. – Psalm 55:19
If God is love, and love drives out fear, how can fear be an appropriate response to God?
More on that tomorrow. For now…
Peace be with you.
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