When I was little my bedroom used to be on the second floor. My biggest fear was that the house would catch on fire, and every night before bed I would run through my mind how I would get out of the house if it were to catch on fire while I was sleeping.
I think the irony in this is that I grew up and married a FireFighter, HA!
Today I was once again thinking about fear. In Luke 9:23 Jesus says we need to take up our cross daily if we want to be His disciples. Just before Jesus said this he talked about the rejection and pain He was going to have to endure. Then He talks about how whoever loses his life will find it, and whoever clings to their life will lose it. I know a lot of people think Jesus is referring to our sin when he talks about our cross, but I really feel like Jesus is referring to our fear, and when fear leads us to not act, then we are most definitely sinning.
God’s goal is truly for us to know that we are loved by Him, and to have a heart that can return that love to Him.
In James 4:17 it says that if we know what we ought to do and we don’t do it then that is a sin.
Fear is often the number one thing holding us back from acting in our life.
So many people refused to follow Jesus because what He was preaching just seemed a little too weird and a little too liberal for them. They knew God, and all they really saw in God was the disciplinarian, but God was always loving, kind, forgiving, and gracious.
Unfortunately people did not see this, nor did they know how to receive all that the Lord had been giving them all of these years, since the beginning of time.
Even rescuing them from slavery wasn’t enough.
Over the years, and through generations passing, so many people forgot the faithfulness of God.
Then comes Jesus, even He said that if we can’t believe in Him then we never believed in the mighty heroes of the past, like Moses, because Moses talked about Jesus and the love & faithfulness of God.
Amazing. Jesus walked the earth and people still did not believe in Him, or even God’s faithfulness.
So many times we think we can change the world, Jesus couldn’t even change the world, not in the way people dream about changing the world.
When people think about changing the world, we dream about changing the culture and “encourage” others to conform to our hopes and dreams we have about this world.
Unfortunately, everyone has a different view point, and all of our viewpoints tend to be selfish in nature.
Saving a life isn’t about changing culture. If it was then that’s what Jesus would have done. Neither is it about criticizing or judging someone else’s method of living, preaching, or teaching. It’s not even about being perfect, or having things all figured out.
I used to want my life to look like a magazine. For all of you who have never read a magazine in your life then I will tell you Pinterest is like a magazine on steroids.
When I became a Christian I thought my life especially had to look like a magazine (pinterest.)
Perfection was how I thought I was going to save a life.
I felt like it was my duty to make sure everyone lived a life that was pleasing to THE LORD. All of this revolved around purity, and eliminating sin.
Living a life that is pleasing to THE LORD does look Holy, but not like a magazine. I soon realized there was NO LIFE in those magazine pictures. It was just a picture. An object, or an idol, ready to be worshipped.
When Jesus says take up your cross I sense He was referring to fear. When Jesus went to His cross He had to overcome fear, not sin, in order to get Him there. Sin put Him there, my sin, your sin, the sin of the people who wanted Him dead.
But overcoming His fear is what He needed to do so that He could save a life.
If we are going to save a life then we need to overcome our fear. Overcoming our fear will allow us, and those around us to overcome their sin, too, because perfect love casts out fear.
Not only is my husband a Firefighter, he is also a CPR instructor. Owns his own business, in fact, which is a new journey for our family. This new business got me thinking that sometimes we don’t want to learn CPR because we don’t want that kind of responsibility to ACT when necessary.
The thought of giving someone CPR scares me so much. Not knowing how to do CPR actually removes me from having to perform CPR if ever the situation arises. Sometimes we need to move past our fear just to learn CPR because truth be told we may never have to perform CPR in our entire life.
Giving someone CPR requires a sacrifice, and if we let our fear stop us from acting when we have been trained to do so, then that is a sin. The truth is we will always need to find courage in our heart in order to implement CPR in someone’s life.
The same is true with taking up our cross everyday. We can’t breath new life into a person if we are afraid for them, of them, or even to speak to them.
We can’t follow Jesus when we are afraid.
We won’t be willing to sacrifice our life for someone else if we are always looking for ways to protect our own life.
We can’t love if we are afraid.
We will never act if we are always afraid. Every decision we make will be one made out of fear. There is no fear in love.
If we are always afraid and worried then we will never save a life.
Sin and shame doesn’t take us away from God’s love. But fear and selfishness prevents us from walking this life out in His love. It also prevents us from returning that love back to Him, and to others.
Jesus changed the lives of so many people with His love.
The lives he couldn’t change were of the ones who thought they had no need for Him.
He healed people and changed the hearts of so many when they saw His love and compassion for those who were cast out of culture and society.
He loved the ones that people had forgotten and left out in the wilderness.
Jesus changed the hearts of those watching Him, so much so that these disciples were willing to die for Him. They did not cling to their lives, and they did not cling to their fears. This is how they changed the world.
I love that Jesus knew it wouldn’t be easy.
I love that even He was afraid of dying on the cross.
I love how God is willing to be vulnerable with us, and become His creation. He didn’t have to, but God is love, what else was He going to do?
We want people to change and we want them to be saved. God’s love for us needs to be what guides our life towards change, and salvation.
We can’t preach to someone about their sin if we are still living in ours.
We can’t remove ourself from our sin if we are still trying to feed those fears in our heart.
When I was 19 years old I was in a car accident. I remember the anger that I felt that morning. I had gotten into a fight with my boyfriend, and I was mad at my friend. Not to mention I was late to work, and some dude flipped me off earlier. Oh, and there was SO MUCH traffic, it was unbelievable. That morning was just a terrible morning. But when I saw the car pull out in front of me while I was going 50 mph and I didn’t even time to put my foot on the break, it was as if all that anger left my heart. I had absolutely no control over what happened next, so I just closed my eyes. I truly thought I was going to die.
But I didn’t. The car crashed, my head hit the windshield. The car stopped. I opened my eyes, and my 3 year old daughter screamed at the top of her lungs. I immediately looked back towards her and asked her if she was OK. With tears in her eyes she shook her head yes. We were alive.
Sometimes it takes life shattering moments like that to teach us how much control we really have in this life. When we realize how little control we actually have over our daily events, and even the things that we fear most, we stop trying to control everything. That car accident changed my life forever. So many good things came out of that very scary and tragic moment in my life.
In a sense there was a small part of my heart that died that day, the part that held onto the fear. It’s been such a long process for me. I remember someone asking me, “What are you afraid of.” I said, “Everything!”
It’s true, I lived my life in fear for so long, and it has taken so many events like my car accident to help me release that control. Some of these events weren’t as dramatic, but some were so very tragic. I will never forget them, and they will always cause a bit of pain in my heart.
But I’m not supposed to get rid of the pain, I’m supposed to take up my cross.
Once again this year I was reminded about how much control I have over my life. I’ve been stretched to follow Jesus in spite of my fear. The event that caused this was one I don’t even feel comfortable writing too much about because it was incredibly tragic, and our family is still working through it. But I will say on that day perfect love casted out all fear while addressing my own fear, my biggest fear. But it also showed me what love really looks like, and it reminded me of Jesus in a very tangible way. I was shown what it looks like to lay down ones life for someone else. If fear was apart of the event then I believe the tragedy would have been even greater.
Our life will never be the same, and I’ve accepted that. But I’ve also learned that worry and fear are selfish, and in order for me to follow Jesus I will need to learn how to take up my cross (fear) every single day. Praise THE LORD I only need to do this one day at a time.
Maybe we think that being afraid is just a bad sign for us, but we need to remember that even Jesus was afraid to die on the cross. Fear is not a sin. But God’s love is what helps us to overcome our fears and to have courage, just like Jesus did. Not only did Jesus know that He was loved by the Father, but He also was driven by His love for us. We will never be willing to take up our cross if we are driven by our fears, love always needs to lead the way.
Your chief ministry in the world is to be loved by God. Our number one task every single day is to be the Beloved. That is why we need to be praying like a bride, not praying like a widow. – Graham Cooke, Pastoring People Prophetically
Love is selfless and it is constantly pursuing ways to bridge the gap of disconnection in the world. Love brings freedom, not only to us, but also to those around us. When we are walking in love we desire the best for people. In this four week mini Bible Study come and explore what unconditional love looks like in your life today.