This past Sunday was Easter Sunday; a day to celebrate as we remember Jesus' victorious resurrection from the grave!
As I have continued to contemplate the wonder of what Jesus' resurrection means, I am continually struck by the words of the angel and the words of Jesus: "Do not be afraid."
Many of us know that the Bible tells us in the book of Proverbs, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge/wisdom." (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10) So on one hand we are told to fear the LORD, yet on the other hand we are told: "Do not be afraid". What then is the difference between "fear" and "being afraid"?
Fear recognizes who God is and leads us to show Him respect and reverence, and teaches us to listen to Him. Fear is rooted in Who God is, and therefore is proper for God's holy people.
Yet being afraid is quite different. When we are afraid we are focused on ourselves, and our weakness. We are afraid of what we cannot control. Jesus tells us "Do not be afraid" because now is the time to fear, to let go rather than be afraid and hold on tighter.
Control is one of the hardest things for you and I as human beings to give up. We like to have control, even it is only the illusion of control, we like to be in control. I think this might be why we are afraid when we receive a difficult diagnosis from our doctor. We live with the illusion that we are in control, and we forget that our lives are in God's hands every moment of every day. Because we belong to Him, we fear but we should not be afraid.
I am reminded of a quote from the movie, "Man of Steel". Superman has allowed himself to be captured by the US military, while under interrogation he breaks his bonds and destroys the illusion of control. He then says to the general, "General, you cannot control me and you never will, but that does not mean I am your enemy."
This is a good picture of the relationship between "fear" and "being afraid". We are afraid of what we cannot control, but fear is recognition of a power greater than I; "the rock that is higher than I" (Psalm 61:2). Superman is greater, but he is fictional. God is greater and He is real and in Him you and I can place our trust.
In Psalm 56:3-4, the psalmist captures it beautifully, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise - in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"
So the Bible has it right. Fear is the beginning of knowledge/wisdom, and those who fear have nothing for which they need be afraid.
So what about you? What makes you afraid, and how does fear help you in those times? I invite you to share your thoughts as we journey together along the Way ...