How to become Fearless in a Culture of Fear

The Example of Peter and John
I am currently preaching through Acts, and one of the things that is readily apparent in the earliest chapters of the book is that the apostles, a group that was once characterized by their fearfulness of others, have been transformed into a group of men who are now utterly fearless. In Acts 4, Peter and John are on trial before the same men who conducted the trial of Jesus and oversaw His execution. In short, they are not a group inclined to empty threats. Before, Peter was famously found hiding from these men, and denying Jesus. Now, we see him boldly staring down his accusers, calling the judge, the lawyers, the guards, the jury, and everyone else in attendance to repent of their own crime of murdering Jesus. He then follows that up by reminding them of Jesus’ threat to kill them and ominously reminds then that the one they killed is not dead, but alive, and that He is back. This passage is a crescendo of bold act, followed by bold act, all underscoring the reality that Peter and John have been turned into a pair of fearless men who will not flinch in the face of danger, nor will they be intimidated by even the most dangerous of men. 

The Type of Man I Want to be

When I see the fearlessness of Peter and John, like the Sanhedrin, I am in awe. That is the type of man that I desperately want to be. We live in a culture where fear is not simply an emotional reaction to danger, but it is a commodity that people traffic in to gain status, influence, power, and wealth. The reality is that if someone can put fear into you, then they can manipulate you and ultimately control you on some level. Fearlessness is not simply a desire, but it is the command most often repeated in the Bible. There is much good that comes from Christian men, fathers, pastors, and brothers who cannot be pushed around by the world, who won’t be discouraged from pressing forward in the holy service of Jesus Christ, and who will not be scared into retreating from the mission that God has given them. Imagine what our families, churches, communities, and nation would look like if Christians boldly obeyed God and lived without fear of the consequences. Oh what a day that would be.  

The Source of Christian Fearlessness 

The source of Christian fearlessness is having a greater fear. In Luke 12:4-5 Jesus commands His disciples “I say to you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear, fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” If we want to live as God’s fearless servants in the world, then we must repent of our fear of man and cultivate a greater fear of God. Most of us know that Proverbs 1:7 teaches us that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, and I am sure that many of us have heard pastors and other teachers qualify this fear as simply respect and reverence. While respect and reverence are essential elements of the fear of the Lord, we need to understand that this respect and reverence is based largely on the fact that God, in His awesome might, has the power to destroy your body and your soul. When God reveals Himself in scripture, people do not simply bow down because of His grace and beauty, they bow down in terror, and rightfully so. 

Christ Looms Over Creation as King 

The unqualified fear of the Lord cultivates a fearlessness towards our fellow man, because we as Christians can rest in the knowledge that the non-Christian has even more reason to fear God than we do. After Peter and John, were released, they joined the rest of the church and prayed, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence.” Christians can live without fear, because no matter how much danger we might find ourselves in at the hands of others, those who seek to make us afraid face an even greater danger as Christ looms over all creation as king, and He will not ignore their threats or their actions. So let us, as members of Christ’s bride boldly and confidently follow Him wherever He leads us, because He is a ready defender of His people, and He is rightly feared.

Published by Colin Andrade

Colin is a PCA pastor in rural Iowa. He serves as the the editor of the Cruciform Blog.

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