23 February, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Fearless – So we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. Hebrews 13:6
Yesterday, we thought about being courageous, the need to push past our fears for the cause of Christ. Sometimes we have so many fears, it seems there are too many to get past. We need to fear less, otherwise being bold is never going to happen. The meaning of fearless is often understood to be completely free from fear, but in many situations fear is a healthy defense mechanism that keeps us from putting our hands into fire or trying to swim the English Channel (admittedly, there may be a number of other obstacle’s that keeps you from the latter). If we say Christians are to be fearless, does that mean we should have no fear at all? The Bible repeatedly encourages us to fear God. I would suggest fearless in this context is better understood as having less fear. In 1 John the writer tells us that perfect love casts out fear. Again, I don’t think it is saying we’ll have no fear, but rather God’s love should dispel the fears that we humans so often suffer. The fears of our own inadequacies, the unknown and of our mortality should be addressed by our confidence in God and His love for us.
In thinking of Jesus being fearless, my mind pictures him sitting at the temple as a 12 year old boy. Two of our gospels tell the story of Jesus going up to the temple with his parents, but when they head back, he is no where to be found. They search for him and they find him having a serious conversation with the temple staff. It is not uncommon for boys to leave their parents and get caught up playing, but to be sitting and discussing religious matters with the pompous know-it-alls of his day is terrifying. Yet, there he is, showing no fear of separation from his parents. No fear of intimidation by the priests. No fear of rejection from his childhood mates who might think he’s a nerd. All the normal incapacitating fears of us self-conscious humans just aren’t there, because he was mindful of his loving Father being there.
Fear varies a lot between us. Some of us are more fearful than others and sometimes for understandable reasons. Our objective in seeking change in our fear levels is to be less fearful tomorrow than we are today. To reduce the fear in our lives it helps to measure what we fear against the God we believe in. For example, if I fear that my colleague might reject me for saying something about my belief in God, think about the appreciation I receive from God for saying what needs to be said. If I am fearful that I will not have what I need at the end of the month if I am too generous, think of the God that owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Okay, you may not be interested in paying your mortgage with cattle, but you get the meaning of the metaphor. God is bigger than any of our fears, but we don’t find that out when we concede to the fear rather than to God. Maybe the way to see it is we need to respect God more than we respect our fears. If we only fear God, we would fear less.