Do you ever feel like it’s a competition: a competition to see who can peddle fear the loudest?
And it’s everywhere. Social media, kitchen-table conversation, news outlets, even our pulpits and Sunday-school classrooms sometimes speak in jittery tones about the apocalyptic folding of America and the Church as a whole.
Truth be told, it’s a contagious kind of rhetoric: a stealthy tailspin. Conversation starts with the weather, and before it ends, you’ve come to realize that the future of the free world and all your grandchildren hinges entirely upon the next election. And the efficiency of the car you drive. And probably the sunblock you use.
For those of us in Christ, we’ve been given a vocabulary, a set of truths by which we should filter devastation, confusion and uncertainty. And even though the list of things we don’t know gets longer every year, we know this for certain: “EVERYBODY PANIC” isn’t part of the lexicon He’s allowed us.
We need to sit with Jesus often enough to find Him more precious and more important than the urge to peddle fear.
Because to find Him more valuable means—in this life—we could be called bigots. We’ll probably be called intolerant. We may be accused of cultivating hatred in our hearts.
And if in our hearts, there can be found a shred of bigotry, impatience, or hatred, we’ll need to adore Him all the more, so that the reflex of our repentance puts each personal rebellion to death. God forbid that anyone would see our old nature more than they’d see Him.
We will drift. Because drifting is the autopilot of human nature. So every day we’ll need to fight for space: A space where He can calm our restless hearts and satisfy us with His faithfulness.
We’ll need to be grown in courage. Rather than feigning fearlessness. Because where there is no fear, there can also be no courage. A courage so assured in God’s forever abundance, that His truth plays out much louder than any blustering, foaming, spitting fear.
Surely this is what He means when He says “Fear not.”
It doesn’t mean fear won’t visit. It only means fear isn’t the boss. And that it can be silenced by His presence.
We have to be okay with being called “fool.” There will be a time to speak and defend, and there will be a time to say nothing.
I know we’ll be marginalized, peripheral and unpopular. We’ll be seen as the exiles and aliens that we are.
And we will know the craziest, most peculiar peace.
Turn around and look back over the landscape of history. See all the spots where the soil was tilled with venom and spite for Christ-followers? And see how, from those very plots, His people have blossomed and grown and been made distinct from the weeds?
So what will it take for the world to see our Jesus?
Affliction? Quite likely.
But don’t be afraid of the angry clouds that pass or the storm behind them. Let it rage. And let the world watch Him as He makes us calm. Let them see His people be satisfied to hold His hand and trust Him as we walk home through the shadows.