Do Not Be Afraid | Happenings 2.1.21
Fear, quite often, limits our willingness to confidently live out our Christian witnessing. Fear contributes to our unwillingness to engage elements of life that are important to our faith journey. Fear quite often takes people away from necessary action in proclaiming the gospel. Fear often perpetuates destructive behaviors, limiting potential for individual growth and growth in our relationships. The theme song for the movie The Rose sung by Bette Midler has a great phrase that addresses the ultimate consequence of living a fear driven life. “It’s the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”
Have you ever noticed how fear tends to magnify the gravity of a given situation? Fear tends to make mountains out of molehills. I remember when I was young and would stay too late at a friend’s house and I would have to walk home alone in the dark. In my mind, every noise was a horrible monster waiting to get me and every car contained people who wanted to hurt me. Although I only had to go a half of a block, in my mind it seemed like miles. Fear tends to be a magnifier.
I would like you to consider what you are afraid of. What fear is holding you in bondage? What fear is limiting your life? What fear is stopping you from witnessing? What fear has limited your freedom in God’s kingdom?
In Luke 12:32-35 Jesus speaks to our fear. Jesus’ asserts that fear drives us to do things that are not constructive for our faith walk. The phrase, do not be afraid, was used often by Jesus, angels, and God to open doors of conversation by reducing the anxiety in the hearts of those gathered. The anxiety Jesus addressed pertained to earthly things, monetary worth and daily needs. Those gathered were fretting about food, clothing, shelter, and even nonessential things in their lives. They had fallen into fear and had begun exhibiting behaviors that showed their unwillingness to trust God’s grace.
Jesus meets fear with faith. Verse 32 reads “Do not be afraid little flock, for it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” This is a gentle call to live unbridled by fears that are preventing you from fully experiencing God’s kingdom. To receive, one must let go. Jesus reminds us in verse 34, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Former South African President Nelson Mandela sums this up nicely in his inaugural address in 1994. “You are a child of God. Playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fears, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Jesus draws us away from our fears and back to the bare necessities of life. In Luke 12:35 Jesus says, “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.” The first call is to be dressed for action. Confidence in Jesus allows us to approach the world differently. Confidence in Jesus, embedded in our hearts, radiates out into the lives of others. The second call is to have your lamps lit, to draw upon God’s word as your light. Making confident decisions, as Christians, is dependent upon seeing the world through the lens of faith.
“Do not be afraid.” Meet your fears with faith, let your light shine, and live in the confidence of God’s love. Amen.