Summary: A sermon about overcoming fear.
“How Many Hairs Do You Have?”
Fear and worry and anxiety run deep in all of us.
We’re afraid of being alone, of being unloved, of being abandoned.
We’re afraid of looking dumb.
Some of us are afraid of losing; others are afraid of success.
We’re afraid of taking chances, but we’re also afraid of missing that “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
The wealthy are often afraid of economic hardship—yet their fear doesn’t go away no matter how high the dollars stack.
We’re afraid of hurting others, and we’re afraid of being hurt.
Singles are afraid they will never marry; married couples are afraid their spouse won’t stay forever.
We’re afraid of growing older; we’re afraid of dying young.
No one really likes fear, but it’s the air we all keep breathing.
The world is fueled by it.
Whole industries exist to profit from our fears.
Politicians practically depend on fear to run their campaigns, and the candidate who taps into our deepest fears almost always wins the election.
All this helps us appreciate the surprising fact that the most frequent command in the Bible is “don’t be afraid.”
It is repeated more than 300 times!
More than “be holy as I am holy.”
More than “do good.”
More than “love your neighbor.”
More than “treat others as you want to be treated.”
More than “don’t sin / don’t do evil.”
No one wants to be afraid.
But it turns out that we have a harder time obeying “do not be afraid” than almost all of God’s other commands.
So how can we move beyond such near-universal fear?
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning Jesus is talking to some very nervous disciples.
He is sending them out on their first missionary journey.
He has instructed them to preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.”
He warns them that their message will not be welcomed by all.
Actually He says: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.”
He warns them that the authorities will be after them; that they will suffer physical and emotional violence and that people will start calling them names.
Seems that there is plenty to be afraid of!
And yet Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid.”
Then, He says: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
We are faced by different enemies at different levels.
We have human enemies; those who have the power to kill the body.
We also have a darker enemy who is battling for our soul.
But we also have God.
And we need not be afraid of God.
And if we need not be afraid of God; we need not be afraid of anything!!!
For God is ultimately in charge and God loves us and knows us and seeks us out and forgives those who will accept His forgiveness and love.
God is the One Who takes note of every single sparrow in the sky and every single hair on our heads.
Every cell in our bodies!!!
How does it feel to know that God is that intimately involved in your life?
How does it make you feel to know that God loves you that much?
In 1st John Chapter 4 we are told that “God is love,” and that “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
The one who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
I have not been made perfect in love.
I have not arrived at that place yet, but I’m a lot further along than I used to be.
Trusting completely in the love God has for us and for every other human being is what drives out fear.
Having a habitual love for God and neighbor is Christian Perfection.
It is what we are to strive for.
If we think God is “out to get us” of course we will be afraid.
If we allow ourselves to fear other human beings, we will be allowing fear, not love control our lives.
And fear is paralyzing.
Fear gets in the way of us being all we can be in life.
And it’s so silly, really.
This past week I came across a very well written article by a woman named Rebecca DeYoung.
Hear what she has to say: “There was a time in my life when I lived and breathed fear and anxiety.
I was 21 and just starting graduate school.
My first year of graduate education was something approaching sheer misery—due partly to the extremely challenging and high-pressure work.
Maybe for you, school in general is like this.