God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and love and self-control.
-2 Timothy 1:7
I've been thinking a lot about fear lately.
You might know that back in May, Dennis and I sold our house, the house we've lived in for 25 years, the house where most of our family's life happened. And it happened much faster than we expected. This set in motion the whole circus of dismantling that home, finding a new one, moving in and making it over. We spent our entire summer doing this. Every. Bit. We got up early and went to bed late and spent every ounce of emotional and physical energy holding on for dear life as we rounded a huge change curve. I expected to be tired. I expected to be overwhelmed at times, giddy at times, completely over my head at times. Grateful. Surprised. Challenged.
Here's what I did not expect: fear.
Change, even good change, brings risk. And that is scary. Especially if our goal, our destination in life, is to be settled. To have arrived. To be comfortable.
I was thinking a lot about this as I prepared the story for this week's Wednesday Bible study. Last week, when we met, we talked about how much fear is involved in telling someone about Jesus and asking them to believe and follow him. We are asking them to "repent". That's an old word we've heard preachers say too many times. When Jesus says it, when his apostles say it, they mean, "Change the way you think everything works. Go in a whole new direction."
This is asking a lot of somebody, and so it is often met with hostility and fear. That's certainly what happens in this week's story. It's the story of Paul & Silas singing in a jail cell, of the Philippian jailer who asks, "What should I do to be saved?" If you grew up in church, you've heard that part of the story, but you might not have heard the part about how Paul & Silas got thrown in jail in the first place.
Paul & Silas are going about the city telling people about Jesus, and they encounter a slave girl who is possessed by an evil spirit. Her owners make a lot of money off this girl as a fortune-teller. When Paul exorcises the evil spirit, these guys realize they've lost their money-maker. So they haul Paul & Silas before the city officials and incite a mob.
"These men are disturbing our city! They're trying to overthrow our way of life!"
The good news of Jesus does overthrow our way of life. Jesus demands that we rethink everything. If you want someone to be comfortable, you will not share the gospel with them. Because you know they cannot stay where they are and go with God. You know this from experience.
It is scary to share the gospel.
It is scary to hear and believe the gospel.
It is scary to go where God takes you next in life.
God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go.
This resurrection life you received from God is a not a timid, grave-tending life.
It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, "What's next, Papa?"
- Romans 8:14-15 The Message
Click here listen to the story and download the Bible study.
Who will you tell this story to?