July 15, 2018
Title: Not afraid, but ready
Scripture: Luke 12:32-40
Narrative: During his years as leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin. On one occasion while Mr. K. railed against Stalin, a heckler’s voice from the audience asked why he didn’t stop Stalin. “Who said that?” roared K. There was an agonizing silence which fell throughout the auditorium. Nobody in the room dared to move a muscle. Then K. replied quietly, “Now you know why I didn’t reply.”
Fear is a powerful emotion. Fear can lead someone to do irrational things. It can render people unmovable. At the time, people questioned why Elizabeth Smart’s sister didn’t tell her parents what was happening to her sister Elizabeth? It was reported later though that the younger sister did get up to tell her parents, but returned to bed upon seeing the kidnapper still in the house. She was undoubtedly frozen in terror, frightened into inaction. Fear can control our every thought, and our every action; even our ability to live out our life of faith.
I remember one evening when I was around 11 years old, a booming thunder, lighting, and rain storm, came roaring through our town. My Mom was terrified of the storm and her reaction caused both my brother and me to be fearful. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and that really sent my mom over the edge. I can still sense her fear. Finally, when we opened the door it was Rev. Jones who was making a home visit. He was greeted by three fearful people. I learned how to be fearful.
There are many things in life that can fill us with fear: a raging storm, fear of want, loss of a job, and a threat to our health or the health of a loved one. In this first part of our Scripture passage, Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid, little flock.” WHY? “For your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
How do we as people gain or learn wisdom? Wisdom comes to us when we are able to integrate our hearts with our mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 reads, “For God did not give you a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” We read these words, and understand them with our minds. But it is not until the spirit of God connects them to our spirits that we receive wisdom. Our hearts and our minds must be together.
So much of how well we live our lives depends upon our understanding of the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Don’t worry because your Father has given you the kingdom, and the Kingdom of God is about the love of God. 1 John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. God is love” Romans 12:2 reads, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Let us understand then brothers and sister that you and I have no need to fear the future. We have no need to fear judgment. We have no need to fear eternity, the storm, the financial times; nor the clothes we wear or the food we eat. The body is more than clothes and our life is more than food. (12:23)Even the final enemy: death has been swallowed up in victory because of the love of God through Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God inaugurates God’s love come to earth to set people free of sin, death, and fear. This is our victory. This is the love of God for us. Then we can be like Joshua when he took over for Moses. The anti-venom for fear is strength and courage. We can be strong and we can be courageous in the face of the storms of our lives- with our family, when we have a challenge of ministry to face- when God asks something from us that is difficult, when things turn bad for us, and when things don’t go the way we hoped. We learn how to be strong and courageous BECAUSE “In the end God will work all things together for the good of those who LOVE him. Who are called according to his purpose.” God will be with us. Jesus tells us that he wants our hearts to be where true treasure is located. It is not the treasures of this world: striving for money, power, and prestige, for it only produces fear, but our hearts are to live in perfect love with God where pure love drives out fear.
The Kingdom of God is a time event. It is not so much N. Sutton, NH as it is 10:45 am. It is the time when God sent His son to become the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sin of humanity. The Kingdom of God is about a Savior. Jesus would die on the cross to pay the price (set by the Father) to redeem you and me. Jesus is the bridegroom and we- his church- are the bride. “I saw the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2)
Jesus tells us “ not to fear, and to be ready (not just waiting to get on a bus) but ready to serve. We are to keep our lamps burning like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet.” Our response: If we have our eyes focused upon treasures in heaven ONLY; then we will be ready to serve while we wait for the Lord’s return. It is active waiting, not passive.
The wedding analogy helps us to understand the relationship between Christ, the Church and the Kingdom of God. At the start of the marriage covenant the father of the groom pays for the bride and establishes the marriage covenant.
Next, the bridal chamber is prepared. The son returns to his father’s house to prepare the bridal chamber. John 14:1-4.
Third, the bride is fetched. At a time determined by the Father; the groom returns for the bride to bring her to his Father’s house. The bride does not know the exact time of the groom’s coming. As a result, the groom’s arrival is preceded by a shout.
Bride is cleansed
Our response is to keep watching and serving while waiting for Jesus’ return. Waiting is a period of learning. Waiting is a time when God is working. We wait as though we are on a mission to bring the good news of God’s Kingdom love. We watch and listen as though we are ready to fill the gap when called upon to be Christ to a hurting world. The battle/victory goes to the one who endures.
(2Peter 3:3): “In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this coming Jesus promised?” Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction.” But remember this dear friends: God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to parish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
1 Thessalonians 4:6: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with aloud command with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the cloud to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
So, what does this passage tells us our response to be? Do not be fearful but rather strong and courageous. Trust in God’s presence and power. Focus ourselves on the treasures of heaven; not the things of this world. Also, be ready to serve while being watchful for the return of Christ. Preaching, teaching, and baptizing others as they come to Christ. Disciples make disciples.
“Isaiah 40:31; “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”