We are probably all familiar with the Christmas story.  Maybe, like me, you grew up reading and hearing the story from the Bible.

When we hear the Christmas story, we probably think about the “glad tidings” that were brought to the Shepherds, the joyous announcement of the angels, or the angelic choir singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Without question, the Christmas story is filled with hope, peace, love, and joy. But for just a moment I want us to remember something else the angel said.

Four times the angel spoke announcing the birth of the Messiah and every time it began the same way. Beginning with Zechariah, the priest (Luke 1:11-20), then Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38), then Joseph, the man engaged to Mary (Matthew 1:18-25), and finally to the shepherds tending their sheep under the starry skies (Luke 2:8-17). Every single announcement began with the words “fear not!”

You might say, “Well, of course they were afraid, an angel showed up! Who wouldn’t be afraid?” But, if you look throughout scripture, from the Old Testament through the New Testament, the message is repeated over and over. Fear not!

It may seem strange to speak of fear and being afraid at Christmas time. Christmas is usually a time of joy and gladness. But the fact is, we cannot experience joy and gladness while we are afraid.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

The natural human condition is fear, and the words “fear not” fill the pages of the Bible because a lot of us have a lot of fears. Fear is a giant! And here’s the thing… fear doesn’t always look like fear. Sometimes fear is obvious and unmistakable. Other times fear exhibits itself a little more covertly. It shows up every day in our lives in the form of anxiety, nervousness, worry, stress, and tension.

Fear eats away at our lives, it erodes our confidence and robs us of sleep and rest. It blinds us to all that God has for us and steals our joy. Fear causes us to settle for what is, instead of pursuing what could be.

Love casts out fear. Love is the message of the Christmas story. Embracing the love of God, through His only Son, Jesus, drives out fear and allows us to experience the true joy of Christmas.

That’s why the angel said to the shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). And His name shall be called: “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:11).