Healthy Fear

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid…” 
–Matthew 28:10

Human beings are born with two fears: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Hundreds of other fears and phobias that haunt us are picked up along the way. We each have the ability to fear, and we should be thankful; our survival depends on it. Epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine spur the heart to pump more blood to the muscles and prepare the body to either confront or run from a threat. Fear of fire, of being hit by an SUV traveling at 70 miles per hour, and fear of being eaten motivates us in some very positive ways. The problem is when we get a memory of the fear stored in the amygdala, a grape-size structure at the base of the brain. We can also have a generalized feeling of anxiety quietly invade our life like a malignancy. This makes us lurk at the edges of life hoping merely to survive.

Over and over again, Jesus told his followers to “fear not.” On our own, this is impossible. Fear is inborn, so daily life in Christ requires replacing old fears with new. The Bible teaches us to fear God, which means nothing less than caring more about what God thinks than what people think. It teaches us that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Unhealthy fear will not disappear magically, though. With daily focus on the higher, inspirational agenda of God, human fears take their rightful place. Being like Christ means transcending our biology and living as children of our great God.

How many enjoyable, noble, and significant journeys have you avoided because of fear? How many life-changing plans never materialized because of fear of failure, human opinion, or harm? In Matthew 28:10, Jesus gave one last “fear not” to his followers. Less than ten verses later he sent them out to make disciples of every person on the earth; and they went. What is fear keeping you from today?

1. What are your top three fears and how would the fear of God chase those fears away?

2. How much bigger would your life be if your human fears were smaller?

Joshua 1:9-10; Isaiah 41:10

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Dan Johnson

Dan is a veteran pastor, speaker, and author. Currently, he operates his own marketing and public relations company, and is the founder of Brain Success.

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