“4 I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Fear. We live in fear. In the US the fear is relatively benign unless you’re in gang territory. In other parts of the world it’s palpable: violence, life and death every day, starvation is the norm, being a Christian marks you for death or abuse.
Yet, Christ is telling us not to worry about those that can kill the body but do no more, but to worry about the one who can kill the body and the soul. It’s the eternal life thing again. This though it’s a different kind of fear. I know there are many out there who say “why would I worship a God who I have to fear?” yet will dutifully sit in a long checkout line to buy a couple of items because they fear the consequences of being caught for shop lifting. What’s the point? The fear Jesus is talking about is the same fear of consequences for poor decisions we live with everyday. Christ is exhorting us to understand the gravity of the consequences were looking at. This ain’t no traffic ticket ere talking about, this is a decision about eternity. Do not worry this life, worry for the next one. What happens to you here doesn’t matter, what you do here does.
Christ makes it perfectly clear what our choices are – believe in Him (in the way He calls us to, not a yeah, yeah, sure I believe now leave me alone way) and give your life to him or, when the time comes be eternally seperated from Him.
I don’t know how I will react when my death comes, but I hope my training is sold enough to live my talk, to walk the walk. That’s a lot of talk about the obvious.
The first sentence though, is a command to action based on the security assured in the second sentence. Do not be afraid is a command. As paraphrases in The Message: “Don’t be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies”.
Religious bullies exist in all shapes and sizes from different religions to agnostics to atheists (yes, atheism is a religion based on faith because they can’t prove their theory either. As is commonly quoted nth I don’t know the source “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist”). We are to STAND UP AND BE THE LIGHT! We are to put on the full armor of God and wield His sword of righteousness.
If you’re standing in the sideline worried about getting pushed around while doing the work He assigns you, get in the fight. This battle is far too important for to many people, for God, to not be a part of it.
Get out of the pews and into the streets. Bless the warriors today Lord.