Sometimes ancient phrases and wording seem to capture our attention, or seem to carry more authority than a more modern statement that says the same thing. “Fear not!” which occurs many times in the 1611 King James Version of the Bible is a case in point. The words actually sound like a command.
Throughout the various versions and interpretations of the Bible, the idea of “don’t be afraid,” or “be assured,” or “don’t worry” is prevalent. As always, we see that the biblical text is in tune with our human nature: we are afraid.
We are afraid of so many things and so many people. Often we fear first and think later. This is a good survival skill for fragile humans, but sometimes our instinctive fear response makes us afraid of things that maybe aren’t as scary as we thought. And since people have figured out that selling fear can be a huge money-making industry, we find ourselves susceptible to all kinds of fears that may be overblown through loud words and flashy images.
This is why the offer that scripture holds out — fear not — gives us a way to slow down and think, and to seek out reasonable dialogue with others so that we can be clear-minded about our response to fear.
God’s offer to calm our fears is not a magic wand that takes away all threats, but it is a gateway for the people of faith to walk through together to seek faithful response to our fears.
I’ll be talking about this at DiscipleChurch this Sunday morning at 8:30 am. We would love to see you there.