How Jesus Transforms Our Approach to Fear
(This was originally something I wrote for a facebook discussion with a friend, slightly tweaked and updated here)
Knowing Jesus transforms how a person understands fear in MANY ways.
First, as Jesus upholds the Old Testament, he leads us to embrace the biblical perspective that the “Fear of the LORD” is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1:7) and wisdom (Prov 9:10). The ‘fear of the LORD’ refers to recognizing God’s absolute and supreme and legitimate authority, power, beauty and wisdom, and living in light of that. This transforms how a person approaches fear, as there is a good kind of fear (one that should be embrace and pursued), and this fear is a reverential, affectionate submission to God. This fear leads to freedom, knowledge, wisdom, and delight and enjoyment of God.
Second, knowing Jesus calls us to heed his voice on fear. He teaches in Luke 12:4-5 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” When we hear this, we must conclude that either Jesus is an irrational fearmonger warning us about HELL, or he is telling something profound about what we ought to fear—even if 2018 secularism considers it outrageous.
Third, knowing Jesus frees us from fears which hinder our flourishing: a Christian need not fear condemnation or a guilty verdict on the Day of Judgment (Rom 8:1); a Christian need not fear physical death, for they will be in the presence of Christ (Phil 1:21-22); a Christian ought to reject being enslaved to the opinions of others or what might happen to us, instead we are called to walk by faith (Heb 11).
Fourth, none of us fear the way we should, we reject God’s legitimate wisdom and ways and we don’t respect His authority or law, but Jesus comes to us anyway. Here we see God’s outrageous love and grace, that He would come and save us from our rebellious approaches to fear, and bring us into a way of approaching fear that pleasing to God, and liberating. We see all this at the cross and in the gospel.