If you’re like me, some of the events taking place in the world and in our own country, our own neighborhoods, are likely producing a rising sense of fear within you. The list seems to grow each day: floods/storms/earthquakes/volcanoes, ISIS, Russia/Ukraine, Israel/Hamas, racism, poverty, hunger, gun violence and the list goes on and on. Sometimes, I just want to turn off the television, radio and Internet and pretend none of this exists. But these things do exist. The question is, “How are we going to live in the face of such violence and destruction?”
The Apostle Paul came face to face with the violence of his day as he sought to spread the good news of his faith in God through the revelation and resurrection of Jesus. Soon to be faced with violence and threats of death Paul received a vision of Jesus who said, “Do not be afraid.”
Did you know that the words, “Do not be afraid” appear more than 70 times in the Bible? I think there is a reason for that and I believe it has to do with a couple of things. I believe that God wants us to always and in ever circumstance place our trust in God. So the instruction to “not be afraid” is actually a call to faith. The second is that the emotion of fear can do strange things to us. It can cause us to imagine things that are not real or true. It can cause us to lose sight of what is really important. And it can cause us to act out towards others in words or actions thus perpetuating a culture of fear.
The other thing that is important to notice is that Paul’s vision of Jesus included the words, “speak and do not be silent, for I am with you.” This is so very important. It is important to speak about injustice and peace and to speak about our faith that tells us that God loves all of God’s creation and all of God’s children. Perhaps if we do that, we will find the courage to live faithfully in these fear-filled times. Neill Q. Hamilton, writing about being a witness said this, “In our times, in contrast to the classic periods of persecution, it will be the manner of our lives rather than the manner of our deaths that counts for witness.” (Recovery of the Protestant Adventure - Hamilton)
As we turn to face the fears of this present age, may our lives speak.
Holy One, may we live our lives unafraid, ever trusting in you. Amen.