“If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious about the rest?……O, you of little faith?” Luke 12:26, 28
“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Matthew 8:26
I probably don’t need to list the litany of fears that are prevalent in our world as we come into Christmas season and end to 2015. We have fears concerning terrorism and is it safe to go to a public place or fly? Some have fear about our own police force and will they intentionally do us harm? There is fear about economic collapse, fear about our savings be wiped out. We have rampant fears about our health; what is in our foods, should we have this medical test but not that one. Which is the right pill to take and will we get sick and die because we can’t afford treatment. We worry about our relationships. Is my spouse/significant other being faithful? Who are my children chatting with on social media and what sites are they visiting? Whew, I’ve only named but a few.
Thus, especially because of recent horrific events in the Sinai of Egypt, the marketplaces in Beirut and the streets of Paris, we hear the question posed over and over again: “How are we supposed to live without being afraid? Is living in constant fear, the new normal?”
Jesus came into this world during a time of fear; great fear. Jerusalem and the people of Israel were under the domination of a dictatorial occupying force who gave little to no rights or thoughts about the people who they subjugated. The Romans could and did kill at will. If they wanted to invade a person’s home, they did. If they wanted to imprison, they did. If they wanted to take away a person’s livelihood through taxes, they did. There were also natural issues like storms, droughts, famines, etc. Even within the Jewish faith, there were worrying factions keeping a wary eye on each other jockeying for power and to knock others out of power; there were the Pharisees, Sadducee’s, Essene’s and Zealot’s, just to name a few.
Yes there was much fear and anxiety which they brought to Jesus and he addressed. In the first instance, Jesus is giving His life altering and encompassing lessons during his sermon on the mount. He knows that worry is rampant in the people of faith about a great many things. Jesus addresses that worry through the biggest fears of sustenance; will I have enough, possessions and status; will I have clothing and will I look good enough, even longevity; when will I die and can I control its happening? Jesus is very blunt when He explains how misplaced those worries are. Jesus states that all those things are in His Heavenly Father’s hands. That we will have enough, whether it be food, clothing and shelter, or our length of life are blessings from the Father which He freely provides abundantly to His creation; whether it be birds or lilies or His very good creation; people. It is only the people who fret over these things, yet in their fretting they can not change the Father’s plan; can not add “one cubit to their stature”. In asking where is their faith; Jesus is trying to make three vital points. First, there is utter futility in worrying about, being in fear concerning the needs that we have. Second, the fears we have are actually manifestations of our doubts about our Heavenly Father’s power and love for us. Finally, the reason there is no need to fear is because Our Heavenly Father is all powerful, knows our needs on an individual level and it is His loving nature to bless us an fulfill those needs abundantly.
How can we be sure about that power? After preaching His sermon to the people He blesses them and sends them away. He gets into a boat with His disciples and they head out across the sea. A raging storm blows up and brings crashing waves and terrible winds into their small vessel. The disciples, some accomplished fisherman, see the peril and become terrified of their impending doom. Jesus is not experiencing this as He is asleep in the stern of the boat. When the disciples can stand the terror no longer, they go to the back of the boat and with shouts of terror and pleading awake Jesus from His slumber. With virtually no drama, no recognition of any danger at all; Jesus, shows the Power of being God on earth. With three simple words, one command: “Peace, Be Still” Jesus quiets the storm. Jesus disciples had not truly grasped nor still understand that they are in the presence of Almighty God. And God, in the person of Jesus Christ, loves them and will let no harm come to them.
Dear Sisters and Brothers; we too are in the presence of Almighty God based on the blessing of the Holy Spirit that has been sent to dwell within us. The world is going to counsel us to either remove our fear through new laws, medicines, technology, new worldly solutions or worse yet simply succumb to the world and live in mind numbing fear. The Holy Spirit gives us different counsel. He counsels us to read and heed scripture. He counsels us to reject being fearful in the first place based upon the power and love of Our Almighty Father. He counsels us to stop trying to take responsibility and then the subsequent glory for those things that are heaven sent. The Holy Spirit counsels us be in remembrance of and take refuge in the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who gave all for us, even His life for us to live in a blessed assurance relationship with our Heavenly Father through Him. Faith. Faith in our Heavenly Father quashes worldly generated fear. That is how we are to live.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You know we live in a world filled with enemy generated fear. Yet You are very clear that living in that fear is not Hthe plan that You have for us. We thank and praise You that You do not abandon us to live in the pits of this fear. We thank You that You gave us Your Son, Jesus Christ, that through His sacrifice we can reject the fear of this world and live confidently in You. Forgive us when we are overwhelmed with the fearful messages of this world and are tempted to buy into them and their worldly solutions. Through Your Spirit redeeming nature, bring us back to being faithful followers and people of praise of Your Most Holy Name. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.