I Am… Fear Not – Words of Grace Blog – January 5, 2024

I Am… Fear Not – Words of Grace Blog – January 5, 2024

Somewhere along the way in ministry, I heard (or interpreted something that was said to mean) that preachers shouldn’t preach things that aren’t real in their own lives. My guess is that the point of whatever was said is that preachers should be striving to grow in grace and that they shouldn’t be hypocritical in their preaching. Point well taken.

But I determined early on in ministry to preach what the Bible says, knowing there is a gap between what I say and what I experience. I’m not presenting myself as an expert or as having attained perfection (or even a high level) in spiritual maturity. I have seen myself as pressing on with the congregation toward what Christ in his word calls us to.

And so, this Sunday at Grace Community Church, we will read, and I will preach from Isaiah 41 about fear. There, we will hear the Lord tell us not to fear.

I believe every human, not just me, experiences fear. Fear can look like fear; anxious, worried, shaking in our boots. Fear can present as overconfidence, anger, and defensiveness. Fear can keep people isolated or unproductive. Fear can be a motivator that makes a person look like a real go-getter. We can’t say that everything we do is from fear, but we can say that everyone at some time is afraid.

So, what do we do about fear? From beginning to end, the Bible addresses fear. “Fear not” is one of the most often repeated exhortations the Lord gave his people. Jesus said it to his disciples many times. But that’s not unique to the Bible. Humans have been talking about fear, and talking themselves out of it, forever.

What is unique about what the Bible says about fear is the way it tells us to deal with it. The Bible never tells us to look within ourselves to find the reason and resources to overcome it. Never does the Bible say that we are to reach down deep inside of ourselves and muster up the courage to face our fears because we are strong.

When the Bible addresses our fear, it says something about God. That is the uniqueness of its message.

Isaiah 41 is classic in this sense. It contains two statements that cannot be separated; “I am.” and “Fear not.” The Lord says, “Who is sovereign over the nations and who stirs up their rulers? I, the Lord, the first and the last, I am he.” And to his people he says, “I am with you, I am your God, I will strengthen you, help you, and uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Then, and only then, does the Lord say, “Fear not… be not dismayed.” It’s “I am” first, “Fear not” second.

Why is this unique message of the Bible important? First, it means that the Lord has time and a place for people who just can’t find it within themselves to overcome fear. What grace! He doesn’t require anything from within us to know and walk with him. Repentance and faith are required, and these are his gifts to us.

Second, it means that we can live courageously despite our fears because we have the “I am, I will” promises of God. We can look to the Lord and find in him the reason and resources to walk in faith and not fear. More grace!

This Sunday I look forward to joining all my not-yet-perfect brothers and sisters in Christ to hear of the great and perfect love of God for us in Christ that casts out fear.