‘Fear not’ is a big part of the Christmas message

One of my many Christmas memories from my daughter’s childhood is the year she was afraid of Santa Claus. I will never forget our trip down the mall. When we were near Foot Locker I said, “Oh, there is Santa Claus.” She instantly turned around and started walking in the other direction. She said to me, “Daddy, I want to go home.”

For some reason, she didn’t like the guy dressed up in a beard with a red coat, even though he promised to bring presents. I knew she was serious about not being around him, because she loved to go to the mall and shop, but just the mention of his name, and she wanted to go home. It worked for a while just the mention of Santa Claus could get her out of the mall in a flash.

It is amazing what fear can do in our lives. The fear of what people might do, or think, will keep us from accomplishing and fulfilling our purpose in life. I have seen little kids learn to walk, but then they take a tumble and suddenly they are afraid to walk and go back to crawling or scooting. Fear can paralyze us and keep us from growing and moving forward in life.

The opposite of fear is trust. Eventually my daughter learned to trust that the guy in the red suit would not do her harm, and she was no longer afraid to be around him. Freedom comes into our lives when we face our fears and trust. Now she takes me “Black Friday” shopping all night long. I have had many times in my life when I was fearful that something wouldn’t work out in a certain way, and I would pray, and ask God to work it all out for me. Sometimes fear and anxiety can become pretty overwhelming, and at those times I have felt God asked me, “Do you trust me?” I have had to come to that place in my life where I can say to the Lord, “Yes, I trust you with that piece of my life, too.”

When I reflect on the Christmas story, I think of these individuals who had to put aside their fears and trust completely. Mary had to trust the angel’s words when he said that this baby was to be the Son of God. Joseph had to trust his vision that the child was from God, and that he was to take Mary to be his wife, even though she was pregnant with someone else’s child. The Wise Men had to trust the star. The shepherds had to trust the angels, and on it goes.

I guess when I really look at the Christmas story I am amazed that almost every person in the Christmas story had some fear to work through. But the Lord wants us to fear not. If not fear then trust, trust God and obey him. That takes fear away and leads us down a path in our lives that will bring us purpose and joy.

The angels told Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds to “fear not,” to simply trust the word they had heard. They did, and God accomplished much through their lives. Like the individuals in the Christmas story, Jesus tells us not to fear, but to trust him with our lives. When we trust him, we do not have to fear the power of sin because we have victory over it. We do not have to fear the unknown because he is all knowing. We do not have to fear our circumstances because he will guide us through them. We do not have to fear death because we will have eternal life. We do not have to fear Satan because he is a defeated foe. Come to think of it, “fear not” is not just a part of the message of Christmas, but a gift that establishes peace in our hearts, in our lives. When we truly trust Jesus, we will know him as the Prince of Peace, the giver of joy.

Pastor Scott Mehlhoff is pastor of Southside Church of the Nazarene in Minot.