Overcoming the Fear of following Him


                “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?  And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Mathew 10: 29-31.)


                The command of Jesus Christ is clear; preach the gospel and do not fear anyone who threatens you, or attempts to silence you, even with death.  There are two kinds of death; bodily death, and eternal death.  Jesus makes this life and the next adversaries.  Wanting to keep this life and the one to come are incompatible.  He tells the people in this scripture not to worry, because they are worth more than many sparrows who die every day.  If something so invaluable is remembered by God, how much more is God going to care for the lives of his human children.  The images and comparisons Jesus uses here are used to bring his listeners out of fear.  They, like most people, were afraid of dying.  They had forgotten that God was in control of their lives, and they began to live as though the bodily life was all there was.  Those who stood for God during this time period were constantly being tested.  Israel was subject to whichever conqueror decided to invade them next.  And every conqueror, whether it be the Greeks, or the Romans, or the Egyptians, often made laws and decrees that made practicing the Jewish faith a very dangerous thing.  At one point, any mother who chose to circumcise her son would be crucified along with that son.  During another period, if one chose to not make a sacrifice to a pagan Idol they would be immediately killed.  Yet God allowed these things to occur.  Jesus is clear that these deaths were not outside of God’s control.  So many of these Jews had become like their conquerors because they feared the conquerors rather than God.  Jesus reminds them to not fear death, because the life that really matters is the internal one that lives within each human beings heart.  The body may die, but the soul shall live.

                If we look at all of the apostles, we see a wonderful example of how God controls the death of every human being; and we are reminded of the commitment we are making when we choose to live for God.  According to the church historians, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.  Andrew was crucified in Greece.  James was beheaded by King Herod.  Philip was crucified and then stoned to death.  Bartholomew was flayed alive (skin cut from the body) and then crucified.  Thomas was stabbed to death by four soldiers with spears.  Mathew was axed to death.  James the less was apparently clubbed to death.  Thaddeus was crucified.  It is believed that Simon was crucified in Persia.  Matthias, the one chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot, was burned to death.  John was nearly burned in oil.  What I’m about to say is what makes the deaths of these men more beautiful than a sunset on a warm summer night.  None of these men are dead.  Peter, Andrew, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Mathew, James the less, Thaddeus, Simon, Matthias, and John never died.  They are with the Lord, as is every human being who has ever made Jesus Christ their’ everything.  Jesus said, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17: 33.)

                The 12 Disciples couldn’t be made to shut up, but today His followers need to be reminded to speak up.  Why?  Do we have a different message today than they had?  How many of us profess Christ in our daily lives to those who know nothing about Him?  Today missionaries across the globe are putting themselves in harm’s way to bring the message in to Muslims countries, but we it seems difficult to convince a churchgoer in the United States to lean over in a coffee shop and ask the person next to them if they know Jesus Christ.  Today, if we are afraid of anything but not doing the work of spreading the gospel in love, then we may not be on the side we think we are on.  This week let’s get moving.  Let’s look for opportunities to insert in to our conversations with other the truth of the Gospel, without fear, no matter what may come.

                “Heavenly Father, remove from us the fear of death and the fear of other people, and give Your message to give to others.  Father, make Your message like a burning in our hearts that we just can’t bear to keep hidden from others.  Father, help us to remember that we share eternal life with all those who died for their faith in You and in Your son.  Give us opportunities to give away the eternal life we have been so freely given.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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