Peace. Not Fear.



Well, hello journey online. Jonathan here. So glad to be gathered together this evening. As we have been journeying together through the season of Lent, something has sort of captured my attention and I don't know if it's because I'm approaching sort of the, at least age-wise midpoint of my life, the kind of mid-life thinking and stuff associated with that, or if it's just a part of my maturity and development as a human being. But I realized a couple of months ago or a couple weeks ago that we only get one lifetime to live. Now, for some of us, we have already lived a very long and fruitful life. Some of us want many more years. Some of us aren't sure how many more years. We have an everywhere in between. Some of us want to live forever as it goes, and so it can seem like that a lifetime is plenty. 


When you really stop and think about how fast life goes, that the one thing that we are able to control in life isn't to slow down time. It's not to live longer or healthier. We can't control any of those things for the most part. But the one thing that we can do is seek to be joy filled and live fully present lives as much as we are able. And in doing that, we are able to make the most out of every moment in situation. I only have a lifetime to be the pastor, a journey church. I only have a lifetime to love and share life with my wife Kelly. I only have a lifetime to be the parent of my child, be the dad of my child. I only have a lifetime to do everything that I want to do. So I want to make the most of it. And I hope that as we seek to figure out what does it mean to follow Jesus, what does it seek to be people of the light? What does it mean to live joy filled, justified, full, and present lives? I hope that we in that process learn the gift of being fully present in each situation that we face during the season of Lent. 


We have been focusing a lot of our attention in the book of Romans, and I want to read this scripture to us today. It's Romans chapter eight, verses eight and nine. It says this, those controlled by sinful nature cannot please God. The newer, new international version translations says that those who live in the realm of the sinful nature live in the realm of maybe your Bible says controlled by maybe your Bible just says, live in sinful nature. They cannot please God. Now, this isn't because God is hard to please or they got to gets angry, or that God is somehow that his value of you diminishes because you behave poorly or ungodly saying that you cannot please God because you're living in the realm that is contrary to the realm of God. And so instead of living in that realm, we need to learn how to live in the realm of the kingdom of God. What it continues as you, however, are not in the realm of sinful nature, but are in the Spirit. If indeed the spirit lives in you, the spirit of God is in you.


And the reason why I wanted to read those verses today is because as we talk about this subject of what we are letting go of and what we are grabbing hold of in its place, this potentially is the most important roadblock for us to root from our lives. Is the suspense killing you? Are you waiting at the edge of your seat with ab bated breath to figure out what we're talking about today we are talking about fear. I want you to stop and take a minute and think about how much fear surrounds us. 


I don't know if you get this. I get these annoying sales calls, people wanting to buy my house, people wanting to put solar panels on our roof, all kinds of things. Also, there are a lot of people who call and want to entice us into a home alarm system. I'm not going to tell you about the security of our home on the internet because who knows who's going to see this. And I don't want somebody showing up to see if what I'm telling you is real. But when we get these phone calls, they say something like, hello, sir, do you know that in an emergency, if you made a phone call to nine one one from your cell phone, they may or may not be able to triangulate your location? And I usually entertain what they say, and I say, well, I know my address by heart. And they say something like, well, sir, do you think that in a panicked situation that you could recite your address? And I usually say something like, well, probably I think I could. But the reality of the situation is that I'm 38 years old and to this point in my life, I have not ever once had to call 9 1 1. And so I'm not saying that it's not going to happen at some point, but I am going to place my bet on the side that if I have to call 9 1 1, I'm going to be able to remember my address. And then usually they try to some other sales page and I say, listen, nine address to thank you, bye. But there is this marketing scheme that tries to get us to purchase things or change our habits or behaviors based on fear. Our news media feasts on fear. They sell fear like it is going out of style. And that fear keeps us coming back. 


But interestingly, what we read about here in the scriptures is that we read this scripture about Jesus being in us. We read that fear and the spirit are like oil and water. They don't go together. They don't go together. There they where fear is. The spirit does not have control. And so we have to determine how are we going to live our lives minimizing the influence of fear. Now, I've had a couple of conversations with some of you over the last couple of days about this topic of fear, even for those of us filled with the spirit being devoted to the kingdom of God. There are moments when we will find ourselves afraid and it's easy for somebody to say, just do not fear. The Bible says, do not fear, don't fret, don't worry, don't be anxious. Those feelings and emotions and responses are real. But we have to know that even in those moments, the spirit of the Lord is present with us and we will not be overcome by our fears because the love of Jesus is within us. 

Human wrath is really the source of fear, wanting people to get what they deserve, wanting people to get justice. And if I have the privilege of invoking that upon them or watching their demise, then that is even better. But that's not a kingdom of God response. Human wrath is focused on one, getting what they deserve. But the kingdom of God doesn't offer us what we deserve. But think about grace. Grace is not fair. Grace is not what we deserve, but yet God gives it to us freely. The kingdom of God is about us creating opportunities for people to encounter the way of Jesus. Our role as individuals and the church isn't to put people in their place but to create opportunities for them to respond to the love of Jesus. And when we judge others because of fear, because of wrath, even when our attempts to judge them are made in love, that doesn't create opportunities for them to encounter Jesus, it renders them unable to live in the love of Jesus. 


The Christians who judge their neighbors, which Jesus specifically and frequently commands us not to do well, they seclude their judged neighbors from Jesus. And the reason we act this way primarily is fear. Fear of our neighbors who believe and behave differently than us fear that our path will somehow be thwarted if our neighbor isn't put in their place, fear that their beliefs or behaviors might taint my beliefs or behaviors. This fear, if left uncheck will lead to wrath. But love, love repels fear. It is the love is to fear what deet is to mosquitoes, right? It repels them. I want to read this from one John chapter Four, verse 18 says this, there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect and love. Love is the opposite of fear. Fear is the opposite of love. My hope for us today is that we learn to live in spite of whatever fears we might have and trust fully in love and peace. 


So I want to encourage you to do something quickly this week. My bet is that at some moment you will have a time of fear or anxiousness or stress or worry. I want you to realize in that moment, I want you to stop and take an inventory of what's going on around you, what's causing it. Maybe it's a conversation or something you're watching or something that you're reading about or hearing or whatever it is. I want you to take your palms and hold 'em up as if you're trying to hold the weight of that thing that's offering, that's taking, that's causing you fear. And then once you've identified that, I want you to rotate your palms down and say, love. Cast out fear. 

Drop that fear like it's hot. And in the midst of that, realize what is the source of your fear or anxiousness or stress. And then determine beyond that what you can do to change your relationship with it so that it minimizes its impact. Thank you for joining in with us today, grace and peace, dear friends.