Much of my devotional time has been spent reading about fear and scripture relating to fear. There are several theories and esoteric dissertations about the number of times fear is referenced in the Bible. Whether it is 80 times or 365 times, scripture repeatedly reminds that we are not to fear. However, there are also many times when we are to “fear the Lord”.
“Fear” can be defined in a few ways. One kind of fear is that which results from being in imminent danger, fright or panic. You know, like teaching your teenager to drive! Another form of fear is the emotional feeling that something bad might happen. Afraid of getting sick or worrying about the future or some event that we likely have no control over anyway. Having a fear of the Lord is the idea of having reverential awe, respect and submission. A friend sent me here for a good article discussing what it means to fear the Lord.
I have experienced all of those fears. I have one more type fear that I would like to touch on. I find it very easy to talk about God, my faith, my struggles and how God has worked in my life to those I worship with and friends that share my faith. But, I am afraid to have those same discussions with people I do not know or people that may speak counter to what I believe or simply asking my neighbor to church. Maybe I am afraid of what they will think of me or afraid of rejection. Maybe I am afraid that I will not be able to defend my faith.
It is this form of fear I believe scripture is addressing more than the other forms of fear. One of the things that turned me off early in my Christian walk were bible beating lunatics screaming fire and brimstone. Preaching that God is an angry God and I was going straight to the eternal fires of hell if I didn’t start doing this and that and stop doing this, that and the other! “Whoa! if that is your god, then I don’t want any part of it!” I grew to think of Christians as being a group of hypocritical screaming lunatics!
So, what brought me back? It took years, but I met some people that took time to talk to me. They showed genuine care and concern for what was on my heart. They talked. They listened. In time, I learned what they were doing was preaching me the Gospel. Not by screaming at me and telling me how angry God is, but by how they were living their lives and how they treated others. They were showing me the Gospel by the way they lived their lives; walking their talk.
Those folks are gone now. I know they are with their Lord and Savior. They were not afraid to talk to me about their fears, their trials, how God had changed their lives, to listen or to extend an encouraging word. They showed me a “no fear” way to spread the Gospel.
So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. – Matthew 10:26
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! – Psalm 96:3