Summary: There so many things going on that can cause fear to seize us. But the whole time, God is right there next to us.
Opening and Introduction
We live in a wild world today, don’t we? There’s a lot of things that can cause us to be uneasy and afraid of how things might turn out. I know I’ve gone through a lot of experiences like that. Many things can make us anxious, and get us concerned, get us worried about what’s going to happen next.
There are a lot of people around us, living in a constant state of fear. First the pandemic, then the lockdowns and the loss of jobs and income. Then, if that wasn’t enough, protests, have sometimes turned into riots and looting. There’s a lot going on in the world right now that’s driving fear. Are you worried about anything?
Today, I want to talk about fear and how we respond to the difficult situations in and around our lives. I want to look at how our faith fits into all of this.
To help us, we’re going to take a look at how fear has been in the center of much of Biblical history. We’ll also look at the fear in, and around us. Finally, we’re going to look at faith, and how God is always there, He can calm us when we’re concerned, and fill us with hope.
Bible Filled with Fear
Worry and fear are in and around our lives, whether it’s something on the news, a story that we hear, or something that deeply affects us.
But, fear is also part of our faith journey as we look to get connected to God, and find a path away from anxiety, and toward hope.
That first uncomfortable feeling of fear began with Sin. Shortly after Adam and Eve bit the forbidden fruit, it was then that they hid from God. God asked them “where were you?” Adam’s response was, “I was afraid!” There was no fear before there was sin. But our world is filled with sin and so fear thrives too.
Even the story of Jesus and the cross is filled with fear. As Jesus’ ministry gained followers, the Pharisees were concerned that His popularity was too great, that they would lose their position, and their influence. Jesus was threatening to upend their world.
Fear drove them to send soldiers to arrest Jesus in the middle of the night. They brought him to the high priest and held a trial away from most of the public. That wasn’t normal.
After Jesus’ arrest, the disciples feared for their lives; afraid that they might be the next to be arrested or even executed. Three times someone accused Peter of knowing Jesus, and three times he denied knowing his Lord. When we’re afraid, our faith might not feel as strong as it usually is.
Then Jesus was crucified, and He died. But fear didn’t stop with Jesus’ death.
A few days later, on Easter morning, soldiers who were guarding the tomb were frightened by the stone rolled away and the angels who were there. The two Marys found the tomb empty and they were afraid that someone stole Jesus’ body.
And when Jesus finally appeared to His disciples, He had to say to them “peace be with you” just to get them to calm down. In all the chaos, and uncertainty, questions of what the future holds seem to produce a steady stream of fear.
In our text from Matthew today, Jesus told his disciples that they’ll carry the Gospel message. They were going to be required to leave their comfort zone, and walk into hostile situations. Just like Jesus received a lot of opposition, many would be violently against the disciples too.
That sounds like a pretty scary situation to me. Jesus was trying to prepare them for what they would face later. But also remind them, that it was going to be ok.
We’re Filled With Fear
Fear is one of the strongest emotions that we can feel. It can paralyze us, and keep us from doing anything, or have us run in the other direction. It can control our lives, affect our words, and impact our actions.
All of us can be afraid from time to time. But, we might call it by another name: stressed, worried, anxious, concerned, troubled… for those more severe problems it might be panic, hysteria or even a long-term fear known as a phobia.
When we’re young, we might experience fear of the dark, or fear of being away from our parents. We might be afraid of getting caught at raiding the cookie-jar mom told us to leave alone.
As we grow up, our fears may change. We might feel uneasy around heights or confined spaces, or we might fear spiders or snakes. These can be hazardous situations and God built a mechanism into us to avoid danger and keep ourselves safe.