I will not live in fear! I say that emphatically to our culture. I hang up on the recorded voice that starts “The FBI reports that there is a home break-in every….” I say “no” to every sales pitch for a home security system. I say a more emphatic “NO!” to those who want guns in bars and national parks. And a stronger “NO!!!” yet to those who arouse fears about immigrants and immigration. I take normal precautions about my safety, but I will not succumb to living a life based on fear. It’s been my experience that the more I give in to fear, the more I find to fear.
I am not denying that today there is a lot to fear in the world, as there always has been, but I am talking about spiritual issues of faith, trust, and how we want to live, not about our fears about the physical world.. As Christian people we live in this world, but we live by the teachings of Jesus who showed us a wholly different way to live. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus assured us that we do not need to be afraid or to be anxious, because the “Father knows your needs.” And then he gave the formula by which we are to live: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Jesus never said that nothing bad will ever happen to us if we put his kingdom first, but he did offer this: “my peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He shared with us how he lived with God at his side, how he handled the struggles he had during his ministry. From the time of his baptism in the Jordan River he was led by the Holy Spirit, first into the desert with all the temptations of the world offered to him, and from there into Galilee, teaching until he went up to Jerusalem where he was arrested and crucified.
No matter the road he traveled, he went with a deep connection to God through the Holy Spirit, demonstrating that no matter what he was true to God’s purpose in sending him. His will was aligned with God’s will. Only twice he complained to God at the end of his life: facing death, in the Garden of Gethsemane he asked that “this cup” be taken from him and dying on the cross he cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He put God’s will first: that he be born in this world, that he suffer what he did, that he lived fully, that he loved, taught, and healed others, that he loved God.
For us today his life and his words resound down the centuries as the way to live without crippling fears. He modeled all this for us, so that all we have to do is to follow him. Put the kingdom first with this step and with the next one and the next one, too. That is the journey we are on, walking in the will of God.