“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, ESV).
Sometimes, I think because we live in the physical world, where we can see physical threats and bullies and we experience peer pressure and cultural pressure, it can be difficult to stand out. It can be difficult to go against the status quo and be “weird.” I think we do (or at least, I know I have and I know I still sometimes do!) fear people in the physical world because we have a reputation to maintain, or a job we want to keep, or a friend group we don’t want to lose.
In this verse, we are called to not worry about any of that. What would that look like? I know it can be easier to stay quiet and avoid a fight, avoiding standing up. It takes energy, it takes time, it takes real experiential knowledge to stand up for what you believe in and be able to defend it. It takes a real experience of God, a heart-understanding of who God is, what Jesus has done, and what the Holy Spirit does in our lives in order to not fear the physical.
But it is very possible for us to be able to live a life defined not by fear, but by faith. When we live by faith in God, we are living a life where fear has no power because God who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). We have nothing to fear when our faith is in God.
We can put our faith in money, in friends, in family, in romantic relationships, in intelligence, in athletics, or in anything really. These things, though, as we can probably all attest to, don’t really make all that much difference. Money isn’t stable. Friends come and go. Family can let you down. Romantic relationships end. Intelligence is subjective and fleeting. Athletics is temporary.
The only thing we should fear (have a healthy, reverential awe of) is God. He is the One who has the power, the One who really matters. This is the relationship of greatest importance and the relationship that will never end.
Put your faith is Someone eternal, powerful, loving, gracious, and forgiving instead of putting your fear in something that was never meant to be depended on.