Almost every time Jesus greeted a crowd – or even his own disciples – he began by saying, “Don’t be afraid.”
I believe he’s saying that to us, this morning. God knows we have plenty to be afraid of:
–China, Russia, world peace
–Our political divide…
Jeremiah was in physical danger. (So was Jesus. And his followers.) Unless we’re first responders or military, most of us are not.
But the fears that keep us awake at night are probably closer to home. Job security, money, our health. Our kids. Our relationships.
And then there are our more personal insecurities:
–Other people’s opinions
–Are we “enough?” (Good enough? Attractive enough? Smart enough?)
–Fear of failure.
My personal favorite: The Imposter Syndrome. (The dream that you’re caught in public with your clothes off. Or you show up for the exam and discover you never took the class. Or you can’t find the room where it is…)
I NEED to hear Jesus say, “Don’t be afraid.” God has this! God loves you! The hairs on your head are numbered! God’s got your back!
The flip side of fear: BE BRAVE! BE BOLD!
Jesus says we are to be both whistleblowers and witnesses.
Listen: “Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.”
I think of President Nixon… and Clinton. Even people with enormous power can’t keep their secrets hidden for long. Abuses by police and federal law enforcement are coming to light. We should all think twice before we do something we don’t want others to know about. Because it will come out.
And if we know something that’s hurting others (like systemic racial discrimination) we should expose it in order to stop it. Be a whistleblower for justice.
But Christians are also to be witnesses of God’s love. “What I say to you in the dark, proclaim from the housetops.”
Scholars believe the Gospel of Matthew was written by a Jewish Christian in the first century, probably between 80 and 90. By then Christians were actually being persecuted in the way described. The writer was remembering how Jesus had warned them of what would happen.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (THAT’S A MOUTHFUL!) But Jesus meant it – and lived it – literally.
So today, think of what frightens you the most – What fear is preventing you from being all you can be? – and give it over to God.
“Perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18. We are swimming in God’s love. The opposite of fear may not be courage – it may be love.