Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Let Jesus Deep-Six Your Fear

"There is a lot of fear in the world, we shouldn't make our imagined fears bigger than someone else's real fears."

That's what my son, Pastor Philip Daniels, observed while presenting this video from George Takei over on Facebook.

I couldn't possibly agree with Philip more.

I am especially stunned by the amount of fear that exists in America today. It makes me think of Jesus' words about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. That's because most Americans--at least white Americans who make up the lower middle class, like me--are wealthier, safer, and more secure than any other people in the world, more than any other people in the history of the world.

I can only read the fear that pervades America today as an indication of our poor spiritual health, of how far we have wandered away from the God we meet in Jesus Christ. Because we so value the finite things of this world, our culture and our politics are pervaded by shallow hedonism, indifference to others' humanity, and constant fear.

And this fear exists despite how much safer America is than at any time in the past twenty-five years. When money, pleasure, and personal happiness are your gods, fear takes control.

We are so afraid of losing what we have, that we are in danger of losing the life that only the God we know in Jesus Christ can give to us.

Christ calls us to a life of love for God and neighbor, set free from sin, the inborn condition that leads to things like fear, hedonism, authoritarianism, racism, and terror.

I want the boy in this video who longs to become an inventor and a pastor to be able to see his dreams come true. That can only happen when the leaders and the people of the world let go of fear and act with hope and faith.

This doesn't mean that we dismantle our armies or our missile silos; there are still bad people unwilling to live in relationship with God and neighbor, from whom children and all people need to be protected. It is to provide for such protection, security, and the general welfare that God has established governments on the earth.

But, if we will turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, our lives will be transformed and we can live in the midst of the dangers and difficulties of this life without fear and instead, with hope, with faith, with peace.

I recognize that we live in a pluralistic nation. I don't believe in an established religion for the United States. I believe that Christianity, in fact, thrives in pluralistic societies because when people can freely consider Christianity in comparison with other ways of approaching life, Christianity will win people's hearts and lives.

But, having experienced life with Jesus Christ for forty years now, I can tell you confidently that He imparts the peace of God to those who trust in him (even as I confess to trusting Him imperfectly) and is, as He Himself has said, "the way, and the truth, and the life." Please consider following Jesus and be empowered to deep-six fear!

[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]

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