What if we were not afraid?

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25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”  John 11:25-27

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” …53So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.  John 11:45-50, 53

Identity Issues

After Jesus made this extraordinary admission of his identity he proceeded to the tomb of Lazarus and called him out. Jesus radiates His glory in word and deed:

The Resurrection: Whoever believes in me, though he dies, shall live.

The Life: Whoever believes in me shall never die.

The body will fail us. Jesus will not.

The spirit of a person made alive in Christ will live though the body dies.

 A Threat to the Status Quo

The healing of Lazarus solidified the opinion of some people that Jesus was a threat. Can you imagine? What if the followers of Jesus were not afraid of death? For those authorities who rely on violence to retain their honour, their position and their influence a people who do not fear death is intolerable. So these authorities take a posture against Jesus and His people.

So, what if we were not afraid?

“You can kill the body, but the Lord will raise me up.” “To be absent from the body is to be with the Lord.” “You decide, is it better for us to obey people, or the Lord?” “Jesus is Lord.”

Where would we go? Who would we love? What convictions would remain? What trivial pursuits would we abandon?

So, what if you were not afraid?

What if heaven, our Lord, and His call loomed larger than death itself?

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Grad School Fear Factor

Scripture:  1 Peter 4:12-14

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

Observations:

Beloved:  Peter, loves this gathering of Believers and he knows God does too.
Don’t be surprised with troubles come because of following Jesus.
Rejoice when you are insulted because of Jesus.
You are blessed.
Because the Spirit of Glory and of God rests on you.

Application:

In his book, What Americans Really Believe, Rodney Stark observes that

people who did not enter college (34%) and those who attended college (33%) were equally likely to witness, but those who attended graduate school (16%) were much less likely to do so.  This may be partly due to the fact that the graduate-educated were more likely than others to agree with the statement: “‘I have kept my religious beliefs to myself for fear of ridicule.’”  A university faculty lounge would be a very uncomfortable place to do any witnessing.  p. 26, What Americans Really Believe.

Fear of ridicule is another form of our fear of people.  Social pressure is real.  But the Spirit of God is calling us to lean into that realm of fear and actually let the glory of Jesus be revealed through our lives.  Faith in the academy persists.  But is does come with its social pressures.  If you find yourself in such circles of humiliation because of your identification with Jesus Christ, count yourself blessed.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I have friends who are in the midst of their grad-school fear-factor.  And I have friends who do indeed face the risk of “fiery trials” because of their faith in other countries.  May your Spirit give them courage and wisdom to love people in your name and to proclaim your Gospel clearly.  AMEN.