May 30, 2004

hear it in the stairwell: Over the Rhine

What would you guess is the most common command in the Bible?

It is not for us to be more loving. That may be the core of God’s desire for hum,an life, but it’s not the most frequent instruction.

A lot of Christian writers speak of pride as being the root of all evil, but the Bible’s most frequent imperative does not have to do with avoiding pride or gaining humility.

It is not a command to guard sexual purity or to walk with integrity, important as those qualities are.

The single command that occurs in God’s love letter to us more than any other-God’s most frequently repeated instruction-is two simple words:

Fear not.

Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous. You can trust me. Fear not.

So why is it that God commands us not to fear?

Fear doesn’t seem like the most serious vice in the world. It never made the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. No one ever receives church discipline for being afraid. So why does God tell human beings to stop being afraid more often than He tells us anything else?

My theory is that it’s not because He want to spare us emotional discomfort. In fact, usually He seems to say it to get people to do something that is going to lead them into greater discomfort anyway.

I think God says “fear not” so often because fear is the number one reason human beings are tempted to avoid doing what God asks them to do.

Fear is the number one reason why peopl erefuse to get out of the boat. So we NEED this command all the time! I heard once that “fear not” is in the bible 366 times- one for every day of the year, including one for leap year!


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