The Bible is full of commands, the most popular being the Ten Commandments. Anyone who went to Sunday School as a child was probably taught the Ten Commandments.
There are other commands in the Bible as well. The Jewish tradition has at its core the 613 commands of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament). That means that there are 613 commands in Genesis through Deuteronomy alone. That’s a lot of commands!
Of all the commands in the Bible, do you know which one appears more than any other? You might expect it to be something like ‘be good’ or ‘be holy’ or ‘don’t sin’. But no! The most common command in the Bible is ‘Don’t be afraid. Fear not.’
This may come as a surprise to some, and a refreshing reminder to others. We must not forget that at the heart of the Christian faith is fearlessness. God is adamant that his people be free from fear.
I believe that his reminder is timely in light of violence saturated current events as well as swelling efforts to deconstruct and expel the culture-defining moral core of contemporary Christian culture in the name of tolerance. The primary tool in the agenda of political correctness and sexualization of culture is fear and intimidation. Ironic, isn’t is, that the very thing that has been villianized for the sake of the cause has become the very tool employed to drive forward that same cause. Fear hasn’t been so near to us for a very long time!
In the midst of the anxiety and concern, the Bible says to those whose lives are hidden in Christ: “Do not fear.” The Kingdom of God doesn’t advance by way of fear; rather, it advanced by way of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. God doesn’t scare people into doing his will. People do not obey Jesus because they fear him, they obey Jesus because they love him. The command to be without fear resonates against this very background.
The cause of Christ does not intimidate and it does not make threats or ultimatums. The cause of Christ is marked by self-giving love. We look to the death of Christ as the ultimate testimony that he does, in fact, have our best interest at heart. He wants us to know more than anything else that he can be trusted because he loves us.
John says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 Jn 4:18).
Finally, N.T. Wright challenges us with this, “Let’s make no mistake about it: util you learn to live without fear you won’t find it easy to follow Jesus” (Wright, Following Jesus, 56).