The N Commandments – essentially what not to do if you’re a Christian. It’s only the second of Josh’s six-week series, and already it seems impossible to live out the expectations to which God calls us. Last Sunday Pastor Josh talked about Jesus commanding his people not to be afraid. Yes, commanding as in the present tense. Instead we are to
“…be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
It’s as if Jesus is saying that fear is a choice. As if we can control our fear by transferring it from one person or thing to another. Some of you live with anxiety on a daily basis and might be wondering if that’s even possible. To better understand the answer we need to look in the Bible. Earlier in chapter 10 of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples He is sending them out like “sheep among wolves.” Since “disciple” means “follower of Jesus” and the disciples are compared to sheep, then shouldn’t we rightfully and logically have a fear of wolves? After all, they want to eat us and that would be very painful. So why wouldn’t, and how couldn’t, we be afraid knowing that?
Let’s dial it back a bit. There is no literal wolf out to get you, but there are wolves in your life. Maybe it’s a looming divorce, or the stress of making financial ends meet. Perhaps it’s a broken relationship or the uncertainty of a job. Maybe it’s passing a class, earning good grades, or any one of a plethora of other things. To be human means to encounter wolves. There is no way around it. Jesus even told us, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). So not even He denies the difficulties you will face. Yet, at the same time He tells us to “Take heart!” (John 16:33) and to “…not to be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
We are not to be anxious about anything. Anything is an absolute word. It means no matter what. So no matter what, we aren’t supposed to be anxious or fearful. That includes not fearing for your life, your job, your marriage…literally and physically everything. Instead, we are to pray about everything. In doing so God tells us, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Therefore the Bible makes the answer clear. It is definitely possible to find lasting peace. It comes with a realization of who God is. It also comes by making a choice. For some of us that choice must be made daily by continually laying our requests at the feet of God through prayer, petition, and thanksgiving. This is not a promise that your circumstances will get better, but the assurance that your heart and mind will be at peace.
Jesus told us not to be afraid of those who kill the body. However, there is one thing He did tell us to be afraid of – the one who has power to destroy both soul and body. There is only one in existence who has that kind power. If you are a follower of Christ then the one who is bigger and badder than all of your circumstances is in your corner – and He is for you.
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16