Matt Bennett is founder and CEO of Christian Union, a Christian leadership development organization. A native of Houston, Texas, Matt earned B.S. and M.B.A. degrees from Cornell University and holds a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He resides in New York City.
I want to start off by saying it is not true that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. That's a popular phrase, but it doesn't mean that it's true, and according to the Scriptures, it is not true. Given that we're in the middle of a worldwide pandemic with the coronavirus, we need to know what is true about fear and what isn't true about fear and how should we respond. The Book of Jeremiah has more references to pestilence than any other book in the Bible, so there's a lot of wisdom there in terms of how we're supposed to think about pestilence and what we're supposed to fear and what we're not supposed to fear. My name is Matt Bennett. I'm with Christian Union. Our focus is Christian leadership development at some of the most academically intense, secular universities in America, as well as among adults in New York City and through Day and Night across the country. We're going to look at the things that we should not be afraid of and what we should be afraid of, very briefly, based off a verse in Jeremiah.
This helps us how to handle life. It helps us to know what to think about, with this virus going all over the world. So let me read this verse in Jeremiah 2:19. It says,
"Your evil will chastise you,
and your apostasy will reprove you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
for you to forsake the Lord your God;
the fear of me is not in you,
declares the Lord God of hosts."
So we see there is something to fear in that verse, but first, a few things that we should not fear. It says numerous times in the Scriptures that we shouldn't be fearful when people come against us—when we're standing for righteousness, when we're doing what's pleasing to God, when we get persecuted. And it says in the Scriptures, we should not be fearful of that. God has not given us a spirit of fear, it says. So that should not be a source of fear.
Also, the Scriptures teach us that we should not be fearful of our circumstances or anxious. What we will wear, what we will eat, we're not supposed to be afraid of that either. Also, the Scriptures have a lot to say about not being fearful of supernatural phenomena. In the Bible, in there, sometimes there's a miracle or there's a deliverance—an evil spirit coming out, or an angelic visitation—God says, "Do not be afraid of these sorts of things." We're not supposed to be afraid. So there are things that we are not supposed to be afraid of. However, in the Bible, all over in the Old Testament and the New Testament, it says again and again, we are supposed to fear God, Christians and non-Christians. Especially non-Christians, because when you die, you're going to go to hell if you don't know the Lord.
But even Christians, if you're not walking with the Lord especially, but even if you're a Christian, walking closely with God, we are to be fearful if we were to step out of that. There are a few passages that connect with this. Acts 5:5 says, "When Ananias heard these words he fell down and breathed his last and great fear came over all who heard it." So this was Ananias, a Christian, who was struck down dead because he lied to the apostles and lied to the Holy Spirit. And fear came around those around him—other Christians. And well it should, that we would ever do such a thing, we should have a fear of God.
Another passage, 2 Corinthians 5:11, "Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others but what are we is known to God. And I hope it is known also to your conscience." So here again you see the importance of having a fear of the Lord. Many Christians today in the West have no fear of God, and that has to change. Again, this passage in Jeremiah, it says, "Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God. The fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord God of Hosts." If you do not have a fear of God—if you're not walking with Him in righteousness—repent, gain a fear of the Lord, so you can have His pleasure and His protection. Thank you. May the Lord bless you as you walk with Him.