Summary: There are two sources for fear: when we are caught up in something we did not count on, and when we are not in control. There are two ways in which living in Christ helps us live beyond our fears: knowing that He is completely trustworthy, and doing as He calls us to do.
Did anything frighten you this morning? Did you feel any kind of fear? Before you answer “No” too quickly, consider that we cannot live without fear. We cannot live without fear. You do not want to get rid of fear entirely. You must be afraid of some things, or else you will be in trouble. You must fear the other drivers on the road, or else you will put yourself in harm’s way. Small children must be afraid of dangerous things; you teach them “hot”, or else they will injure themselves. We cannot live without fear. We need fear. Forget about living without fear.
But we can live beyond fear. We can live beyond fear. We can understand fear and discover that we don’t have to be paralyzed by fear. We can put our confidence in something that will take us beyond merely wallowing in fear. There is a way to live in confidence, no matter what we are afraid of. There is a way to live beyond fear.
Now – back to my original question. Did anything frighten you this morning? Did you feel any kind of fear?
Maybe you looked in the mirror; for me, that was a scary sight. Before we men put a razor to our faces, or before the ladies dip into their makeup – scary. Because the truth is we are aging. Some of us are lurching into decline, and we’re not ready for that. We weren’t ready to turn forty, because that sounds like middle age. We weren’t prepared for the big five-oh, because that suggests that there is more behind us than there is ahead of us. And a whole bunch of us are trying to deny sixty and seventy and more – we try to deny it because it reminds us that maybe it won’t be long now, and who is ever really ready for death? Fear. Life is too short. Did anything frighten you this morning when you looked in the mirror?
So you turned on the TV to glimpse the headlines and get caught up with the world. What’s going on out there? Any reason to be afraid? How about tensions with China? We got our air crew back, but the world is not so stable. How about that plummeting stock market? Will we get to keep all our “stuff”? Snap off that TV! Snap it off before it tells us about riots in Cincinnati, about the closing of D. C. General Hospital, about things that hurt our quality of life! Yes, there’s plenty to fear out there!
So let’s just get ready to go to church, how about it? Let’s just push those fears into the background and get ourselves to church. Nothing to be afraid of at church on Easter! Except –how do I look? Will they think I’m too done up? Will I get a place to sit? Where will I be able to park? Will they make me feel guilty because it’s been a long time since I showed up over there? Will the preacher go on forever and I’ll be late for the buffet? Will he rant and rave and upset me – I really want to feel good this morning? Fears! Little ones, maybe, but fears nonetheless. Everywhere we turn, something scares us. Something huge or something trivial; something real or something imaginary; but fears just the same.
We cannot live without fear. Forget about that. But we can live beyond fear. Beyond fear.
I want to suggest this morning two reasons why we live in fear, why fears don’t get resolved. And then I want to proclaim two ways in which living in the Risen Christ makes us able to live beyond fear.
First, why are we afraid? What is this fear thing? What gives fear such power? Two thoughts: first, we are afraid because we get caught up in things we didn’t ask for; and second, we are afraid because we don’t like not being in control, even when things are going well.
Let me repeat those. Why are we afraid? We are afraid because we get caught up in things we didn’t ask for; and we are afraid because we don’t like not being in control, even when things are going well.
The events of the previous few days had been enough to knock the underpinnings out of almost anybody. How could it have all happened so quickly? The parade as Jesus entered the city had turned on a dime! Everything had moved with lightning speed! A near-riot in the Temple, quarrelsome skirmishes in the streets, back room meetings, a betrayal, an arrest, a trial, a cruel crucifixion, a horrible death, and a hurried burial. Anyone would have to have nerves of steel not to be fearful in the midst of all of that.