not, little flock...
ear can be a good thing, for it can keep us from falling.
One of my high school summer jobs was working with a tinsmith who flashed chimneys, installed gutters, and cleaned our gutters--- even high off the ground ones. One job was four floors high. We could not use extension ladders like we usually did, so we got up on the steep pitched roof and inched our way along the edges cleaning debris out of the gutters as we crawled along with shorts and our shirts off thinking that would help stick us to the shingles. Isn't it obvious that the thing that kept us from falling was the fear of falling--- and knowing that we could fall.
However, fear can be destructive if we allow ourselves to obsess about unrealistic fears. It is a good ides to check your skin for possible melanomas twice a year. It is not hard to do. Its even easier if you have a spouse. However, we have all known folks who could turn something like that into a twice a day ritual: Especially if they have had a melanoma.
Fear can be a good or bad thing and we make its so.
In our text, Jesus is telling us, his followers, to trust in him and to not be overly fearful in a negative sense. Sure, we need to be afraid of evil, and we need to know our weaknesses; but, with our hand in his hand we are safe. Yet, we must fear the devil, and the temptations that could separate us from the flock of God.
Fear not, little flock...
However, his promise is conditional upon our remaining a part of his,little flock, of believers. He is not making a blanket promise to those who are not party to the covenant.
I had originally, a few months ago, entitled this sermon, No Fear! A take off on the popular expression. However, as the weeks have passed I have reevaluated the phrase and am currently of the opinion that Jesus is not even promising his flock that there would not be any reason to fear.
A deeply dedicated believer shared with me this week how she was afraid of her operation. She said, The most unpleasant of all to me was the anxiety that I could not seem to control. It is scary to think about being placed in the hands of perfect strangers who will put you to sleep and then perform surgery.
Psychologists say that most peoples fear of flying on and airliner, is founded not upon the fear of getting thirty thousand feet off the ground, but the fear is really based on not being in control--- not being allowed to fly the plane yourself. At least in an automobile we can choose to drive sober, safely, and seat belted in.
One young woman on one of my Holy Land Tours had not previously flown. She was afraid. The only reason she had decided to risk flying was that she so much wanted to walk in Jesus footsteps. However, she had seen movies about airplanes crashing and she had allowed her fears take control of her thoughts. She was even afraid of eating the food: I assured her it was fine--- but then began to wonder about it myself. She was afraid to use the rest rooms for fear of forgetting to lock the door; and if she locked the door she was afraid of being trapped. She was afraid the pilot might decide to fly the plane upside down. I told her what I often have to remind myself, as long as we are in the little flock of Jesus, we have his promise that we do not have anything to really fear. His answer might not always coincide with our demands, but his way is best. He has never failed me and he will never fail you.
We need a certain amount of honest fear, or anxiety whenever we are in a tight situation. Driving home from a wedding in Birmingham yesterday, Marilyn saw five cars that had spun out during heavy rain. One spun in the road just in front of us and ended up in the ditch. We had an honest fear after that and creeped along in the slow lane. An unhealthy response would be to become convinced that you should never drive again.
It in through the human process of overcoming our problems and fears that we experience a heightened spiritual growth. It is the pinch that we learn that in relying on God, we can be more than conquerors. We are not alone in the process of renewal.
Jesus casts out fears not so much by taking away the problem; but rather, by giving victory amid the pain--- and thats the greatest victory of all.
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden (burdened by anxiety and fears), and I will give you rest (victory over your fears) (Matt. 11:28, parenthesis mine).
So dont be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. (LB, text).
Knowing this how can we ever fear again? But well show em. Folks will look at us a either learn to be whimpering cowards, or will learn to control their fears. What is your greatest fear? God can enable you to overcome.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor