I don’t know if you know this, but the most commonly-used phrase in the entire Bible is this: “Do not be afraid”. Usually (although not always) it is used in the context of humans being scared of God or His angels.
Funny, then, isn’t it, how so much of today’s church activity focuses on fear. The doctrines, the practices, the terminology, the liturgy – most of it is fear-based. And most of that fear is of course channeled into the idea of being afraid of God, despite the most common context of the phrase ‘Do not be afraid’.
The phrase could even be seen as the most-often-repeated commandment of God, although you won’t hear all that many church leaders preaching on that idea, because of the loss of fear-based power that would follow. So, when people trot out the inerrantists’ phrase, ‘God says it, I believe it, and that settles it’, why do they not apply it to the phrase ‘Do not be afraid’?
And given the phrase that is repeated so many times – Do not be afraid! – there really is no excuse, when you think about it, for any believer to be afraid. Afraid of God and/or what He’s going to do; of death, because it’s been defeated; of Hell, because it’s just a scaremongering idea invented by the mediaeval Church to keep people in line. No, there is no need at all to be afraid, and I would like to emphasise this by sharing below a great piece from my friend Mo Thomas on this very subject. Here we go:
Fear of Divine Punishment
Based on what I know of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, I have NO FEAR OF HELL whatsoever, for me or anyone else, EVEN IF it exists as western theology frames it. (Note: I don’t believe that it exists as a nightmarish place of eternal horror, and neither did 5 of the first 6 schools of theology in the first 5 centuries after Christ. We might be missing something?!?)
Why would I ever have any fear or worry? This is the Abba of our Lord Jesus that we’re talking about!! His Love never fails, it keeps no record of wrongs, and His mercy endures forever. I trust Him completely that it would be for our refining, that all which is not of Christ would be burned away in His holy fire.
“We have come into an intimate experience with God’s love, and we trust in the love he has for us. God is love! Those who are living in love are living in God, and God lives through them. By living in God, love has been brought to its full expression in us so that we may fearlessly face the day of judgment, because all that Jesus now is, so are we in this world. Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. **Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.”** (1Jn 4:16-18 (Passion Translation))
Hear God speak into your soul, gently but firmly, with unshakable confidence in His voice…
“It is I, the One who loves you.
Trust in Me, and #DoNotBeAfraid.
Come to Me, and rest in My Embrace.”