(Part 1 of 4)
Maybe you’ve read that the Oxford English Dictionary couldn’t pick just one Word of the Year for 2020. Based on usage, words like Covid-19, lockdown, social distancing, and BLM were all possibilities. It seems that too many significant events happened this year to pick just one word.
Well, I have it – FEAR! In my mind, that is the word that summarizes 2020. Even left unspoken, it’s in our minds! Much of what has happened this year has been fear-based: fear of getting the coronavirus, fear of political changes fear of isolation and abandonment, fear of financial losses, fear of racial injustice, fear of the future. And the list goes on.
This Christmas, God wants to calm our fears. While we hope Christmas will be filled with joy and hope, we are all prone to fear. Even during the very first Christmas, the angels said, “Do not be afraid,” three different times.
- To Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God…” (Luke 1:30 (NIV)
- To Joseph, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife…” Matthew 1:21.
- To the Shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy…” (Luke 2:10)
The phrase, “Do not be afraid,” is in the imperative, meaning it is a command! God says we must not be afraid. That’s easier said than done.
For many, our fears about change, about the unknown, and about losing control have led to some rather unbecoming behaviors. It is almost impossible to love when our lives are gripped with fear.
Perfect love casts out fear; persistent fear casts out love (see 1 John 4:18). As Christ-followers, we want to be known for sharing the love of Jesus, not for bullying or denying, nor for cowardliness or exclusion. We are people of the good news and that good news allows us to behave in ways that are counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.
During the next three weeks, my Christmas blogs will look at each of these “Do not fear” commands and what it means for God to replace our fears with faith and love.
BEFORE YOU GO
What are your fears? God never intended for fear to dominate us. Fear freezes us. It shatters our hope. It keeps us from fully living. The Bible says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
The Psalmist cried out, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, In God I trust; I will not be afraid…” (Psalm 56:3-4).
Whatever we are fearing, we can trust God more!