When I know the gospel I cannot hide it. Jesus encourages us to proclaim it fearlessly, knowing who to fear and whom to trust.
When I was a child I remember walks with my dad to the meadows and ravines that were near the house. For me it was an experience of total joy when my father took me in his arms and made me believe that he was going to let me fall into a deep puddle. I say it was an experience of joy that did not cause me fear for three reasons:
- My father was tall.
- He was strong, I knew he would not let me fall
- And most importantly I knew that he loved me very much, nothing bad could happen to me.
Something similar occurs in spiritual life with God
- God is higher than all of us.
- God is stronger, he has the power of creation and conservation of the universe.
- God loves us more than anyone and on an infinite level. We are in His hands, in His heart, in His love. Faith is feeling the assurance that God’s love is greater than everything in life, even greater than death.
Jesus calls the disciples to proclaim boldly and publicly that which he has taught them in private. We are not to tiptoe around the truth in the fear of inviting persecution. Preachers are tempted to avoid hard texts. Fear prompts us to choose texts that are easy to understand and comfortable to preach–but which avoid the hard to digest parts that are essential for good spiritual health.
Fear in the face of persecution is natural, but Jesus gives two reasons not to fear:
- Fear of God helps us to overcome fear of people and sets us free to be faithful witnesses. We prefer to think of God’s love rather than God’s judgment. It is appropriate, however, to fear the Lord, because God has authority over body and soul throughout eternity.
- The second reason not to fear God is because of God’s compassionate love for us. God cares even about tiny sparrows. The God who cares for a small bird also cares about all the small things of our lives—even the hairs on our head.