“Don’t fear” is a familiar biblical saying.

These words, however, assume a frightening context.  You’re not likely to hear this expression when life is tranquil and carefree.  They are much more commonly heard in the midst of chaos or in the face of imminent danger.

Any time an angel shows up in the New Testament they always start their monologue in the same way, “Fear not.”  So much for the old angel image of a dumpy baby with diapers, a halo, and soft feathery wings.  These guys must be impressive.

In a similar way, Jesus constantly encouraged his followers not to be anxious – not to worry – not to fear.  We see this in Matthew’s gospel in a unique way.  Jesus tells them not fear those who can kill their bodies.  That’s a timely exhortation particularly since most of his disciples would lose their lives standing for what they believed.

Jesus didn’t stop there though.  He told them that the appropriate source for their fear was the one who could kill both body and soul in hell.  In this way Jesus connected fear to judgment.  Judgment was then connected to a place of eternal separation and punishment.

There is something hellish about fear.

The antidote for fear is the love of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:17-19)