rebelling against low expectations

Let’s Be Fearful This Christmas


Christmas is not the holiday we associate with fear; rather, Halloween is. Elves, carols, trees, and turkeys don’t scare us. Skeletons and bleeding zombies do. But I think our lack of fear at Christmas needs to be changed. I think this simply because the first Christmas was made to inspire fear.

This fear was not a Halloween-esque fear, cheap and silly. It was deep and meaningful and rich with purpose. It was the fear inspired from the Incarnation, when God became man. More specifically, it was a fear inspired by His holiness.

There was perhaps no greater, more obvious time when the holiness of God was made evident in this world than that “silent night.” It’s true — there were many other times in the history of God’s people that His holiness was manifested in visible ways (think the Tabernacle, the Law, and the sacrificial system). But none were like the Incarnation — when God Himself came down and dwelt among us, became like us for us.

And that ought to strike fear of this holy God in our hearts. Not just reverence and awe, as we hear so often from books or Sunday School classrooms. Yes, we are to revere God and look on Him with awe, but fear is more than that.

As my dad says, fear is fear. Trembling, driven to our knees fear. Fear of the unexplainable, incomprehensible God. But, very importantly, it is not a fear without hope, nor a fear without knowledge, not a blind fear of an unrighteous master. It is a fear of the holy.

We can’t understand God, we oughtn’t underestimate Him, and we must worship Him. But we must also recognize that He is God and Lord and King and Master and perfectly just and perfectly good and completely holy and, though we can rest in Him with peace, there is always an element of fear.

In C.S. Lewis’ beautiful children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis created the character Aslan the lion as a representation of Christ. Aslan is the king of Narnia. When Susan Pevensie, a young English girl, visits Narnia with her brothers and sister and hears about Aslan for the first time, she is visiting with the Beavers.

[Mr. Beaver explained,] “Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh,” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he — quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

God is not safe. But He is good. “He’s the King, I tell you.” Christmas, this most sacred of holidays, ought to make us fear God more. But it also ought to make us love Him more. As Doug Plank penned,

The Son of God came down and laid aside His crown
Born without great renown, this Sovereign One
All holiness and might, all glory shining bright
Have come to earth this night in Mary’s son
O come, let us adore

Indeed, let us adore Him, for that is what Christmas is about.

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Photo courtesy of Bart and Flickr Creative Commons.

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About the author

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris

is the former editor-in-chief of The Rebelution and author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway). She's the co-founder of The Young Writers Workshop and hosts a podcast for youth called Age of Minority. She's married to Joe and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada.


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  • Wow! This is so powerful. We often for get that God needs to be feared. Fear makes it easier for me to see what the Christmas season really is, holy and divine.

  • So true, Jaquelle. I think a fear of God is something that most of us are quick to overlook. But God’s holiness and power are so great (and “great” seems like too diminutive a word to use here) that there are few other suitable responses. And I LOVE the Narnia books. That quote was so perfect!

    • I love the Narnia series too! C.S. Lewis was brilliant. My dad enjoys the series so well that my brother Paul’s middle name is Caspian. 🙂
      Then again, another brother’s middle name is Aragorn, so that might only make us a bunch of overly enthusiastic literature fanatics.

      • That’s awesome! 🙂 I have always been really impacted by the analogies in the series. The Last Battle is my favorite. I love the picture of heaven it gives. 🙂

        • The Last Battle is good! From what I remember, it seems so different from the other books (in plot and writing style). I think The Silver Chair is my favorite, but that’s open for self-debate every time I read a different book in the series.

          • That’s true! Though I think that all of the last few books really seem to be uniquely written. Haha, ikr?! It took me forever to finally decide on a favorite–yours is a great choice!

          • Yes I love The Chronicles of Narnia. I got my book for Christmas 2007 (7 years old) and finished it in 2012 (12 yrs old). Didn’t read it for years, because I didn’t know how.

            My favourite book: I don’t really know. I like ‘The Horse And His Boy’, ‘The Silver Chair’, and ‘The Last Battle’. But the part in The Last Battle with Tashlan was cool.

            If I had to pick, provably The Horse And His Boy, as I felt like it was a great adventure story. 🙂

          • I love The Horse and His Boy too! Which should be no surprise because I love all of them. 😉
            My dad owns all seven books, so I had the chance to read them any time I wanted to. I read the first one when I was very young; I then began the second one and promptly decided I hated it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Prince Caspian now (of course!), but for whatever reason I didn’t like it at the time. Since then I’ve probably read the entire series at least five times. 🙂

  • I love the Narnia series and the song “the son of God came down”. Great post! Christmas is not cute and innocent. It is the son of God in heaven coming to earth!

    • I love the thought “Christmas is not cute and innocent. It is the Son of God in heaven coming to earth”. I totally agree with You! It is the Son of God being born! So Majestic! 😀 😀

  • Hey guys, just curious, how does your viewpoint (I guess) agree with this passage?

    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (‭I John‬ ‭4‬:‭18‬ NKJV)

    • Hey Grant! In 1 John 4, John is talking about salvation and I believe that he’s saying here that “perfect love” removes fear of wrath and eternal punishment. The fear I’m talking about is not a fear of losing our salvation but of understanding and fearing the terrible wrath and holiness and righteousness of God.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Amen. A fear of God is in awe and great respect. Grant’s point with that verse is that there is fear of torment and suffering because of sin, but there is fear as in honor and understanding God’s love is not cheap. Many words have dual meanings. It’s all on how they are used.

  • I agree with this wholeheartedly. I feel that people, especially in the recent years, have been either taking Christmas too seriously in the wrong way, or actually taking it away altogether, saying they want their kids to grow up always being grateful and not just excited about the one time of year. This is a great reminder of the real reason, and I think the phrase ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ just doesn’t quite cut it. Even though Jesus was more then likely born in the Spring time, I love winter traditions, and now I’m going to add the fear of God in, because I think I’ve been missing it.

  • Wow! I’ve never thought of it that way before. You’re right: at Christmas we, or at least I, tend to exaggerate the generous, merciful side of God at the expense of fearing him.

  • Yes, true. Fearing the Lord makes us think twice whenever we are tempted, make us realize or be reminded that He is Holy, He holds justice, He is Love. We are reminded that we should be Holy too as He is Holy (1 Peter 1:16).

    Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

rebelling against low expectations

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