First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

What scares you?

March 28, 2016

    Many years ago as a child, I can remember going to bed each night and I would literally reach around the doorframe, click the light switch on, then enter the room cautiously. I would also get ready for bed, crawl into bed, then reach across to click the lights out. At no time would my feet be on the floor with the lights out. **shudder**....  I have come so far in my fear issues. I now get my wife to turn the lights out!       Just kidding!

    What scares you? Does darkness set your mind on edge? Would losing your job send you into a tailspin? Is the finality of death something that affects your peace? Is there a credible threat of persecution toward you simply because you are a Christian? What is it? Are you lost in a forest of darkness and fear?

        "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for

        fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he

        showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."                      

        (John 20:19-20, NIV)

Much has happened to the disciples in the last week. They rode high on the euphoria of the crowd in Jerusalem shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." They have watched Jesus move throughout the week clearing the temple, cursing a fig tree, and observing the Passover. They were following the trail markers of Jesus. They trusted.

 Now they are spinning over the trial, death, and burial of this man. In fact, the scripture above says, they were scared... There's no shame in this place of mind numbing fear. The same people who accused Jesus of blasphemy could easily target all the followers of Jesus. So, here they were in a locked room. Self-imposed exile from the world is often a safe thing to do when threats are swirling around us. Not sure this was what Jesus wanted his followers to do, but none the less here they were cowering.

    No better words have ever been spoken to one gripped by fear than these, "Peace be with you!" In another part of John's Gospel, Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27, NIV)  Yet, in the midst of crisis, the disciples defaulted to the place of fear and indecision. Human nature versus the nature of Christ is always at odds until Christ becomes enmeshed in our hearts and minds. To have the mind of Christ is the ultimate goal for us. 

    I think we are coming to the crux of the matter of our christian belief. Are we able to trust Christ to care for everything that comes our way? Will we submit to his authority in all things? Can we see his grace and mercy even in the worst scenarios? Our tendency is to close the door, turn the lock, and turn off the lights. It's safer to not engage and easier to tremble in helpless fear.  Jesus probably did not die on a horrible cross so we would jettison our belief that he can make all things good. (Romans 8:28) 

    We must trust the trail markers Jesus has set forth for us. They guide us along paths that seem to be taking us in the wrong (frightening) direction. Think about it for a moment; would the one who died for you suddenly yank the carpet from in under your feet? I'm thinking not!  Trust Jesus; he saves; he is our peace; he loves us!

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