Vol. 12 No. 6 June 2010
Paul R. Mobley
Stormy weather can produce fear. Tornados, hurricanes, flooding and high winds bring fear when one is in their path. The twelve disciples boarded a ship on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus, then at sea a tempest, a violent storm, rose and the twelve feared they would be destroyed by drowning (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus was asleep, trusting God with full faith. The twelve woke Him, similar to our praying to God through Christ, and Jesus calmed the storm, and all was well.
Almost every time I meet a driver talking on a cell phone, I want to grit my teeth until the driver is past me. For in a second that person can be distracted and fail to act, or react, properly and quickly, and an accident could result, possibly involving my wife and me.
Another fear that is common is the fear of men. This fear is not new. A common one was the Pharisee and chief priests who feared the people (Matthew 21:46). They wanted to take Jesus, which was wrong, but they feared the people would exact some kind of punishment against them, so they delayed until Judas came along (Matthew 26:14-16). Judas loved money and power so much that he did neither feared Jesus nor God, and thus betrayed Him.
Still another is illustrated by Joseph of Arimathea who was a secret disciple of Jesus (John 19:38). He finally came out of hiding and asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, which he took and buried in his own grave (John 19:40-41). It is sad to think about having Jesus alive, and being able to enjoy every minute, and benefit with him, but evidently he did not take that opportunity. It is thought that he was a synagogue ruler and kept his discipleship secret because he feared what the other synagogue rulers would do to him. He might lose that rulership.
Perhaps the greatest fear of all is the fear of asking. The twelve had that problem at one point, fearing to ask Jesus about His coming crucifixion (Luke 9:44-45). The apostles probably suspected what they would hear, and did not want to hear it. Yet, to their credit, they all stayed with Jesus, except for Judas Iscariot. Many today have that problem of seeking the truth. Some have a dominance thinking that refuses to consider anything but what they believe or want to believe, and never learn the truth. Others refuse to accept anything new, living according to present beliefs. Others are just plain lazy mentally. It is sad for all will know one day what they dismissed or ignored, whether they like it or not, when the Lord returns in the clouds (Luke 21:27). Ask questions now, for it will be too late when the Lord returns.
Something we need to fear in self is envy, for it is a terrible taskmaster. Through envy of what others have one can be driven to over debt and personal financial problems. In most cases, it is not necessary to have what others have in order to enjoy a good life. Worse is when we envy another person. For, then, envy can drive one to act against the person envied. During the time Jesus was in the hands of Pilate, Pilate had come to realize that the chief priests and elders envied Jesus (Matthew 27:18). Though Pilate offered alternatives, these men demanded the crucifixion of Jesus, leading and persuading the mob to destroy Jesus (Matthew 27:20), finally saying let the blood of Jesus be on them (Matthew 27:22, 25).
The twelve, now eleven for the moment, hung in there with Jesus. For after the crucifixion they gathered with the doors shut, for they feared the Jews, and Jesus came and stood in their midst (John 20:19). Jesus said, Look at my hands and feet, and handle me (Luke 24:39); then later to Thomas our Lord said, ‘touch my hands and feet and thrust your hand into side’ (John 20:27). Jesus said to Thomas, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 19:27, 29). These last include believers and the obedient today, you and me.
All the facts are in the Bible, recorded by honest men, guided by the Holy Spirit. They can be believed. However, we must want to know and understanding the importance and impact of these truths without fear, and act on that knowledge.
These facts, these truths, guide us into a favorable relationship with God and Christ. For the moment had come and Jesus was ready to establish His church (Matthew 16:18), just as He promised. It started on the day of Pentecost, Acts chapter 2. About three thousand were baptized, Peter telling those convinced, and asking what they should do (Acts 2:37) (some had seen what happened to Jesus on the cross), to “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
Then, our Lord added to the church such as should be saved, those who have obeyed (Acts 2:47). For a fuller understanding of initial obedience, read Acts 8:26-39 and Romans 6:3-6. It is the church and the one of which I want to be a member.
Having learned of these, and obeying them, I believe our Lord has made and keeps me a member of His church through obedience.
The apostle Paul in talking about the churches located in Asia said to the Romans (16:16), “the churches of Christ salute [or greet] you.” This is where the family of God on earth is found. This is where the brothers and sister of Christ are found. This is where Christ places those obedient to Him, and being in that family dispels many fears, including fear at the time of His return.
Jesus said, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Rather, once in His family, we have the love and care of God (1 Peter 5:6-7), Peter telling us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the might hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
It is then, as did the apostles, that we can go about life as Paul instructed Timothy, saying “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”(2 Timothy 1:7).
Do not be afraid to ask, to seek the truth, for the reward will be tremendous!