Fear or Fear Not
President Roosevelt’s famous statement “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” is well known and is quoted often. Psychologists and psychiatrists state that fear is the underlying cause of all emotion; fear is what drives our emotions, actions and in-action. You have heard “paralyzed by fear”.
I question if it is fear that drives the unbeliever away from the gospel, the good news of Jesus the Christ. Generally, people don’t like change, especially if it is they that must change.
The perception of the unchurched seems to be that they must change their behavior, activities, thoughts and lifestyle to be “believers”. So, that fear turns them away from finding out and learning that it is after they receive the gift of faith that Jesus does the changing and it is for the better. A change they would welcome through faith in the promises of God.
Fear is paralyzing, debilitating and caustic. Look at how fear began in Genesis 3:10 where we first see fear appear. Adam says to God, “…I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked’ and I hid myself.
Fear drives us to desperate measures. In Adam’s case he turned away from God. Later on in the Bible when God came down on Mt Sinai and gave His law to Moses for all His people, they too turned away from God trembling in fear.
We as a people don’t like to be corrected; we don’t want to know what, how and where we go wrong. The law does just that. Fear rises up in us and we try to hide from it. Therefore we will hide from God, our helper.
However, there is another mountain, one which holds the answer to this fear for us. It is Mt Calvary, Golgotha. God in the body of Jesus comes on this mountain also, but with a different message than that of Mt Sinai.
This is the “Fear not” message of the Bible, the gospel. The law has been fulfilled for every human being. God in His grace took mercy upon us and gave us the antidote to our fear, sin and wages of sin, which is death; the second death which is the death of our soul.
This is the message the nonbelievers need to hear; a solution to their fear of whatever it is that drives them away from Jesus. Whether their fear is learning of their wrongdoings, fear of change in their habits and lifestyle, fear of the unknown or fear of rejection of their friends and family if they become “a believer”, they need to hear the pure words of Jesus (the law) is finished.
In the Bible when God sends His messengers, angels, they begin with the words “fear not”. We as Lutheran Christians know that with God through our baptism there is nothing to fear, not even fear itself. We have the healing message that Jesus and His good works has given us His grace and mercy and removed fear through His redemptive work on the cross. We go forth in our baptismal covenant with the one true and triune God and fear not, but love (our neighbors) with the joy and love of our risen Savior.
The law was given, in part, to show us our sins so that we would turn to Jesus for His grace, mercy, redemption and forgiveness.
The gospel was given to the world so that we could know the good news; that God sent His only Son to keep the law for us. When we confess our sins and sincerely repent of them, Jesus pardons all of our sins and imputes His righteousness to us.
‘Fear’ of the law that condemns us or ‘fear not’.
Fear not, Jesus has done it all for us. We are reconciled to God through the Holy Spirit that gives us faith in the gospel promises.