Jesus loved using paradoxes to make a point. Check out this one:

4 I tell you, my friends, ​do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him ​who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.​ Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?​ And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, ​even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; ​you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:4–7)

In these four verses, Jesus delivers four commands:

  1. Don’t be afraid (verse 4).
  2. Be afraid (verse 5).
  3. Be afraid (verse 5).
  4. Don’t be afraid (verse 7).

This is a paradox but not a contradiction. Jesus is making the point that we’re always afraid of something or someone. There is no one alive who has no fear. The question is this: what, or whom, are you afraid of?

If you fear the Lord, you’ll fear no one and nothing else.

Sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll unpack my current understanding of what it means to fear the Lord, and what practical effects this should have on the way we think and act.

(Bonus: for a similar mind-bender relating to fear, check out Exodus 20:20.)