Here is an important trivia question for you: What is the most repeated command in the Bible?
When I first heard this question, I assumed the answer would involve a commandment that points to strict adherence to one of the important behaviors outlined in the Bible. Serve more? Be generous? Maintain sexual chastity?
Those are all important, but they were not the answer to the question.
Ok. Well, I figured that if it wasn’t one of the well known behaviors, then certainly it must be something about the Great Commandment. Love God, love people – it had to be something in there, right?
That may be what all the other commandments hang on (in the words of Jesus), but it is still not the answer to the question, “What is the most repeated command in the Bible.”
Believe it or not, the most repeated command in the Bible is formulated in two, simple word: “Fear not.”
Would you have guessed that? I didn’t.
I’m blogging each day this week about an important facet of10:10: Life to the Fullest, which released yesterday. I’ve already covered the foundation of the book and the important role that faith plays in it’s contents. The next big theme of the book is the inter-related nature of fear and faith. There are two important ideas around faith and fear that I believe are central to the 10:10 life. Here’s the first:
Fear sets the limits of life. Faith expands the boundaries of life.
We can clearly see the power of fear to place limits on our life in some of the everyday arenas of life. Whether it is fear of flying, fear of heights, or fear of strangers, the result is the same. Fear never opens up our world. Fear sets limits on how we travel, how much risk we can take, and our ability to even go into new settings.
Those may be interpreted as inconsequential by some. Perhaps those particular fears can be seen as nothing more than a nuisance – limitations that can be easily planned around. But what happens when we tune in to the fears that live just below those?
What happens when the subject changes to our fear of conflict, or rejection, or intimacy? Now the stakes of our limitations go well beyond traveling, climbing, and meeting new people. Now we are limited in the depth of relationship we can experience. We are limited in how authentic we can become with loved ones. We are limited in how much growth we can experience, because we are too fragile to be in meaningful relationships.
That is why fear is so powerful, and potentially so dangerous.
Once we understand that, we have to be careful that we don’t jump to the wrong conclusion. Our goal should not be to avoid fear – to do that is to live antithetically to a life of faith. Instead, our goal should be to grow in faith.
The unavoidable reality is that faith and fear always go together. In fact, I can state it even stronger than that.
There is no such thing as great faith without first experiencing great fear.
Faith and fear live right next to each other. They are permanent neighbors in our heart. Jesus will lead you out of your comfort zone and into the unknown, and you will have to rely on him at every step of the way to navigate these new uncertain realities. With each new chapter of faith come new experiences of the abundant life in Christ. But with each new chapter also come new fears.
So the goal is not to avoid fear – the goal is to increase our faith… to the point that our faith in Christ becomes stronger than the fears that live alongside it. It is only then that we come to discover that fear isn’t a prison that we are trapped in, but a pathway toward greater freedom in Christ.