‘DO NOT BE AFRAID!’
Tom Wright, retired Bishop of Durham, in his book, ‘The Scriptures, the Cross and the Power of God’, tells us that the most frequent commandment in the Bible is, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ Jesus often said to His disciples, ‘Do not be afraid,’ and the first thing that the angel in the empty tomb says to the frightened women is, “Don’t be afraid!”
Perhaps we should consider it for all Christians, as the next greatest commandment after, ‘Love the lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength and your neighbour as your self’, (Matthew 12:29 –31). But is it possible to live without fear? What does it actually mean?
Erica Jong, said, ‘I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me.’ That perhaps is the point at which we should start. As Christians we believe that God is in control and we are told to put our trust in Him. It doesn’t mean we won’t suffer pain, experience unwanted and difficult times and changes, or wonder apprehensively about ‘the unknown’, but it does mean handing it over to God to deal with and has throughout history enabled many of the ‘saints’ to face the horrors of torture and horrendous deaths. Handing fear over to God helps Christians all over the world today to carry on witnessing to their faith when even now, it can lead to death or torture or persecution. Trusting in God gives us courage to stand up for what we believe even when it means we lose friendships and respect and find ourselves on the outside of society.
I have no doubt that the thought of crucifixion filled our Lord with fear as in Gethsemane He asked His Father to save Him from it but added, ‘Nevertheless, not my will, but Your will be done.’
I have found two more quotes by unknown authors that might help us as we think about these things:
‘Don’t fear tomorrow. God is already there.’
‘Courage is fear that has said its prayers.’
JOHN 14: 1
‘Don’t be troubled! You trust God, now trust in me.’