Dear Friends,

The Bible has much to say about fear. Over the years, some have associated Christianity solely with fear. The picture of a fire-and-brimstone preacher, warning heathens by name in the sermon and who plays on people’s emotions usually comes to mind. Whether it’s the fear of being sent to hell, fear of God’s wrath to fall, the fear of being rejected by family or the fear of being left behind after the rapture – these fears, among others, have formed the notion that people become Christians to escape a perilous end. But is it wrong for a Christian to fear such things? Is it wrong for Christians to fear, period?

Christians know that fear is part of the Christian life, but not to the same degree as is proposed by our culture. Our culture highly prizes fearlessness. Maybe it’s because fear imposes restrictions on our behaviour and experiences –
stifling our potential. If a political party proposes restrictions on people as a better way, they are accused of playing
politics of fear. So why do Christians accept fear when it comes to the faith?

The fact is, many Christians struggle with how fear works within God’s will as for our benefit. As far as I know, there are two ways to perceive fear (one is good and one is bad). Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but
cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). He commands us not to fear people, but to fear God. Jesus understands that we are creatures designed to fear. Now, we need to orient our fears rightly.

We fear what we deem has great power over us. When I fear learning something beyond my current capabilities, I give into despair and become mastered by my perception. When I fear God as my Creator and Sustainer who designed me to change and grow, I overcome my previous fear as I find my identity in God. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). It is wise to fear God as it is our freedom. Now, may we know God’s grace as the late John Newton; “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.”

Happy New Year!

Jonathan Camiré