Perry Emerick – Mesa Campus Pastor
We live in a culture that seems to be addicted to fear. Read the news feeds, watch the new channels, or check your own social media feed and likely the vast majority of stories there are heavily infused with fear. Often catastrophic fear – the kind that concludes with the worst possible outcome being the expected outcome. And what we will often do is re-share those stories, perpetuating the culture of fear that on one hand we hate, and on the other hand we can’t get enough of. It’s kind of like sugar. You would truly have to have been born yesterday to not know that too much sugar is bad for you. In fact there are a number of scientific studies that show that sugar can be addicting. So we know it’s bad for us, but we do it anyway, justifying it by saying it doesn’t harm anyone or it’s just a little bit. But the truth is, it does harm, and so does our addiction to fear.
So, what is the antidote to fear? Many would propose that we need to be courageous in the face of fear, and there is certainly truth to that. When God speaks to Joshua after Moses dies, several times he admonishes Joshua to not fear, but to take courage. Courage is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens them, or strength in the face of pain or grief.” We like courage. We admire courage. Many of us desire courage, particularly in the face of situations that cause us the most fear. But how do we develop courage? The answer is vision.Proverbs 28:19a says,
Where there is no vision, the people perish.
Vison is the catalyst for courage, because vision gives us something to be courageous about. It gives direction our courage. Now don’t get me wrong, vision can also be the catalyst of fear too. That’s what is happening so often with these news stories and commentary. They cast a vision of failed this and hopeless that. They cast a vision of fear, and people respond appropriately. But the questions is…who’s vision are you following? If you are a Christ follower, than a vision rooted in him can only result in courage. The problem is, we don’t spend enough time embracing and reinforcing a biblical vision of the power of God’s incredible grace. So let me give you some verses that Jesus said to cast vision for us.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matt. 28:18-20
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
These verses are dripping with vision and hope for us today just as they were when Jesus said them. I would paraphrase these verses like this, “Let it be known that I told you things are going to get bad and every instinct within you is going to want to shrink away in fear…but don’t! I have overcome the world and all of it’s fears and worries…so live in peace, and go help others to know me and the peace that I bring, and the method to do this is love!”
My friends, that is a vision that builds courage. Courage for the sake of courage can be good, but can also drive you to do things that are unwise. But courage rooted in the vision of Christ is what can ultimately change the world. Spend more time feeding your minds and hearts with the vision of Christ, and less time feeding your fears. Take heart…he has overcome the world!