“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10 KJV
To a child, Christmas is the most anticipated day of the year. In many ways, it may be even more awaited than their own birthday. Anticipation will sometimes bring with it fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being disappointed, once the longed for event arrives. Just the word, anticipation, has an almost driving sound when it is spoken. An anxiousness can almost be felt when saying the word.
Yet anticipation and joyous expectation can also bring great relief. A confidence in knowing the arrival of something great is just beyond the horizon.
Such anticipation, joyous expectation and great relief, is what the foretelling of the Messiah’s arrival brought to so many who waited, never wavering from the hope which Prophets, such as Isaiah, shared with all who would listen. Isaiah so clearly described the hope which Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would bring to the world (Isaiah 9:6-7).
In the 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament, when God was silent, many still remained strong in their commitment of believing in the coming Messiah. Then it happened! He came! His arrival wasn’t announced to the leaders of nations, but to shepherds in the fields. The average person was the recipient of the greatest message of mankind.
When the angels appeared to the shepherds, the first words they spoke were “Fear Not”. How comforting. “Fear Not”, joy is coming. The joy, which the world had been waiting to receive, is now here. Born of a virgin, laying in a manger and God didn’t want us to fear the messengers or the message.
Not until this year, had I ever realized, when Linus, from the Charlie Brown cartoons, explained the meaning of Christmas, to Charlie Brown, as he quoted scripture for the meaning of Christmas by saying, ‘”And the angel said unto them, Fear not…”‘, did I realize Linus drops his blanket. The most common symbol of security, a child’s blanket, is dropped when he began speaking of the birth of Christ. As soon as he finished reciting the beautiful passage of scripture, announcing The Lord’s birth, Linus immediately returns to toting his dutiful, blue blanket. His most beloved sign of security.
In such a childlike way, the message of Christ’s birth relieved all insecurities and fears. No blanket needed. It’s true. We celebrate this incredible merging of God’s Holy, spiritual self into human form every year, yet continue to hold tightly to all the fears and insecurities He came to abolish. Christ, the perfection of God our Father in human form, came in love to save us. In this love, there is no fear. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18 (NLT)
Many, if not all, of us have a fear of something. Yet, the Savior of the world came so that we would not have fear. In this time of remembering His birth, why is it so hard to recognize one of the most precious parts of the gift of His birth? Certainly, the biggest gift, we as humans have been given, because of Christ’s birth, is salvation through His death, burial and resurrection. But there is so much more available to us because of this time of year. There is a peace that comes because of Christ. A peace that is only found when fear is thrown away.
There is great trepidation in letting go of our fears. Fears of anything. So many people are afraid of terrorism, hate crimes, presidential outcomes and words written in chalk on the sidewalk. Fears are driven by bad personal experiences, as well as opinions from influential people, with no experience or credibility, just notoriety or a lectern.
Many people today carry security blankets which cannot be seen. Instead of the blankets being soft, colored pieces of material, they are harsh opinions and insulting words. Our fear of many things drives us to divisive behavior, which some cannot release.
Why can’t we let go of our fears? If this time of year is a celebration of the birth of peace and freedom for mankind, what limits our ability to walk away from our fears and move forward?
Sometimes the fear is driven by not wanting to go against what we have so boldly professed. If we have determined we are the absolute captains of our souls, to proclaim the deity of Christ might make us look weak. Academics have convinced so many that a belief in God and Jesus Christ shows weakness. If we must rely on a spiritual being to help us, we must be too weak to function and certainly not intelligent enough to walk among scholars.
For some, the world has convinced us that we have absolute control of our life and all things which occur around us. A partial truth is, yes, we do have an incredible amount of control in our life, however, that control ends at the tip of our fingers. As humans, we can only control what we think and do. Everything else is in the hands of God. For those who don’t believe in God, the fear of not having absolute control must drive some crazy. There is fear in admitting it isn’t karma or chance, but truly a higher power, God, is inconceivable for some to grasp.
For others, there is fear in returning to what you once believed, yet have turned away from living. The lack of identification in believing in God or needing to participate in a religious lifestyle has declined over the past few years. Young people are finding other ways to fulfill that portion of their life which God once held. Now it is filled with happy thoughts toward others or good deeds done with a smile, without attaching it to God. People aren’t sure how to return to a love and belief they once had in Christ, the Christ they celebrate each Christmas Day, when they don’t identify with Him any longer.
The amazing circumstance of Christ’s birth, which many of us so freely celebrate, occurred specifically to drive away all fears, big and small, created by whatever reason. Christ coming to earth was to take away fear and our need for security blankets. Our security is found in the manger. Our security is found in the life of Christ. Thus, producing a security in His resurrection.
We cannot celebrate the birth of our Savior without realizing it has great meaning and purpose. Having no fear is only one piece of that blessing. This Christmas, let’s take a cue from Linus and drop our security blankets. Let’s allow the true meaning of Christ’s birth to flow forth from us as we embrace the joy and peace which comes from no fear.
Merry Christmas, but most of all, thank God for the birth of His Son and the security He offers us.