God encourages his followers to fear not 365 times in the Bible, one for each day of the year, Pastor Rick Warren says, emphasizing that He didn't intend for Christians to spend their days preoccupied with anxiety and worry.
Warren, who heads Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, wrote in a post this week that God's repeated mentioning of the phrase "don't be afraid" is clear evidence that he didn't want humans' minds clouded by fear.
God's encouragement is especially evident in Psalm 23:4 (NLT), which reads: "Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me."
Warren says God obviously wanted Christians to "get the message" to stop worrying, as there are 365 mentions of "fear not" in the Bible.
Why did God stress the importance of avoiding fear, Warren asks, "Because our hurts and hang-ups can often cause us to think that God is out to get us, that all He wants to do is condemn us and punish us. But that simply isn't true. Jesus is the proof of that."
When Christians form a healthy relationship with God and understand His eternal grace and mercy, they will realize that there is no real need for fear, the megachurch pastor adds.
"God isn't trying to get even with you. Jesus has taken the penalty for everything you've ever done wrong or will do wrong. He paid for it on the cross," the pastor writes.
Warren has previously connected fear to failure, writing in March that there is no point in fearing failure, because failure is an inevitable part of life. Instead, Christians must accept failure and seek to redefine it, therefore causing it to lose its control over one's life.
"We've all made mistakes. It's not just a 'you problem;' it's a human problem," he explains, adding, "not only have you made mistakes in the past, but you'll also make more in the future. I guarantee it. Even playing it safe and refusing to take risks is a mistake."
"You'll never overcome your fear of failure until you fully accept the reality that you're not perfect," the pastor says. "You've already failed many, many times in life. So have I. You're a failure in some area of your life right now. And you'll fail a lot more in the future."
While everone experiences failure at some point in their life, those who are successful persevere despite their setbacks.
"Great people are simply ordinary people who have an extraordinary amount of determination. They just keep on going. They realize they're never a failure until they quit," Warren asserts.
The Saddleback pastor has also addressed the topic of fear in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, writing that people can allow fear to control their lives, thus missing out on important opportunities.
Instead, Christians must work through their faith and relationship with God to take away fear's control over them, the megachurch pastor adds.