Saturday, March 26, 2016

No Fear

    What is your greatest fear? Pain? Suffering? Death? Fear always has to do with loss: of a loved one, of your pride, of your reputation, of your health, of your life. But most of all fear has to do with loss of faith.

    Good Friday, which I always want to call, "Black Friday", not because I confuse it with the shopping holiday, but more of a Freudian slip: in my mind, it had to have been the blackest of all days. It was so chock-full of loss it was literally bursting at the seams. The disciples lost their leader, Mary lost her child, and the Father lost His Son.

   And Jesus? He lost everything. His reputation was in tatters, His power seemed to have deserted Him, His followers had fled, He was literally having the life beaten out of Him. Ultimately, He would lose the only thing no human has the power to replace: His life. We all know how the story ends: His Father restores Him to life, but that had yet to be revealed to those wading knee-deep through the most painful loss any of them had ever experienced, or would ever experience.

   And you know what goes hand-in-hand with loss? Fear. Swamping, swallowing, sweeping fear. The kind that opens its gaping maw and gulps you down whole into its acid-filled gut. The ugliest, most consuming kind anyone could imagine because it took every kind of loss and built an invading army out of them-and they were standing powerless, weaponless, before it.

   Who could survive that? Who could come out alive on the other side? Well...the answer is: no one. Not even Jesus went through that alive. But He could conquer it through death. What? It doesn't make sense on the surface. How could death-the most feared loss of them all, ever result in anything good?

    Over and over and over the Lord tells us through His Word, "Do not be afraid." "Do not fear." How is that even possible? In our own strength, it never will be. In our own strength, the best we can hope for is to dilute fear, to manage it, to sometimes cover it up. But we can never be without it.

   So that's why He sent Jesus. Because we could never do it on our own. But Christ beat every fear all hollow! He faced them down, one by one, to show us Who is truly the Victor.

"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 in love." 1 John 4:18 NIV
He is love. He drove fear out with a crashing whip, and a stunning show of strength. He did not even let the most cumbersome of fears, death, slow Him down.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55 NIV
  That doesn't even seem feasible to our feeble humans minds. Death is pretty much the most fear-ridden thing we can conjure. It is the greatest loss we can imagine, or experience. Good thing we serve a God who isn't bound by the constraints of our humanity. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, He tells us over and over, like a Father to forgetful children. "Do not fear..."

   And then with Christ, He showed us how it is done. Through absolute faith and trust. Through perfect love. Fear isn't something to manage, it is something to expel. Black Friday. Good Friday. Our blackest fears turned in the the greatest victory. Our greatest loss equaled our biggest win. He walked through every dark place, and He triumphed. He suffered every type of loss and was victorious. And He didn't do it to prove His worth-there was no need for that. No, He did it for us. He did it to fulfill every promise and to prove to us that His endless chant could become a vibrant reality for those who believe. Good Friday=No fear.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,    they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire,    you will not be burned;    the flames will not set you ablaze.     For I am the Lord your God,    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..." Isaiah 43:1b-3a NIV
   He doesn't ask us to do anything that He hasn't already done. He showed us the way, and He is the way. Good Friday...the day the door was opened so that we could be free from fear, and free from true loss. This Easter, this Resurrection Sunday, wake to new life-one absolutely, divinely, perfectly free from fear. Don't let it scare you-He has already been there, and He will be with you...

Need further convincing? Every single one of those verse references in the image above is a whisper (or maybe a shout) from your Father who loved you enough to give up His Son for *you*! Don't let your fear keep you from the greatest love ever. He is waiting to take your fears away, today.

P.S. If you would like to make the image above a printable, simply right-click, select save and then print from your saved location. Happy Resurrection Day!

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