One of the things I used to say when I was an expert on parenting (before I had children) is that I would never say “Because I said so.” I swore to myself that I would never be like my parents when I would incessantly question them about why I had to do what they instructed me to do and they would say, “Because I said so.”
But then I told my eldest daughter to do something that seemed like a no-brainer to me. I told her to brush her teeth. She said, “Why?” My response, because I didn’t want to go into the explanation of why we should brush our teeth again and if we don’t they’ll rot and fall out, was a curt, “Because I said so and I am your father.”
One of the greatest weaknesses and fallacies of the western Church today is that we seem to have lost the idea that God is our Father. Father is a loaded word for many people, I understand that. But just because you or I have had a bad experience with our earthly father doesn’t mean that we are then required to have a problem with our heavenly Father.
Our so-called faith in the Western Church is all about us and what makes us comfortable. Oh, the term Father makes you uncomfortable because your own dad was broken and sinful? Okay then, we’ll just accommodate your sensitivities and bow to your wishes and stay away from such toxic words as “father.” It’s kind of ridiculous.
Another thing we’ve lost in the western Church is the authority of God. For us, Jesus has become our friend, our “lover”, our homeboy even. While Jesus is a friend of sinners and entirely accessible and kind and loving, He is also the risen and ascended King of glory. We forget that to our great detriment.
Let me illustrate.
Jesus’ disciples walked with him, lived with him, laughed and cried with him for three years. They say Jesus in His most human and in His most glorious and divine nature. After He was raised He appeared to them. John’s gospel records something that I want to talk about.
“After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28, NASB)
This is important. Thomas recognized Jesus for who He was; the risen Lord, God and King. Did you notice that? None of the other disciples voiced this, only Thomas.
Here’s what I’m trying to say.
Jesus is our friend, yes. Jesus is our elder brother, yes. Jesus is the lover of our souls, yes. Jesus is kind and merciful and loving and all those things. But He is also the risen King of glory. His power and authority are absolute.
His power and authority are absolute.
It really doesn’t matter if you agree with that or believe that. It is true, regardless of your belief or my belief. And because that is true, because Jesus has absolute authority (Matthew 28:18), we must give Him our undying trust and obedience and love.
We don’t get to say no to Jesus.
All throughout Scripture, God/Jesus/Spirit is asking and commanding people to do things that are vastly uncomfortable for them. I’m reading through Ezekiel right now if you need an example. God regularly asks of His people, His children that they do things they don’t want to do. After all, Jesus did what He did not want to do. He went to the cross, He suffered by taking on the sin of the world in a way that we cannot possibly fathom. But He did it willingly. Why?
Because it was the will of the Father.
Because God said so.
The sooner we embrace God’s absolute authority in our lives, the sooner we have peace. I’m not saying that what He asks of you or me will be comfortable. In fact, the Bible bears witness repeatedly that following Jesus will probably be distinctly uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean we get to say no to Jesus and what He says because we crave our own comfort more than Him.
Let me be clear:
Either Jesus is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.
Either we are obeying Jesus or we are not. His power and authority are absolute. We need to stop qualifying our obedience and trying to bargain with God based around a selfish desire for our own comfort. Our obedience to God’s will in our lives is based solely on who He is, not how we feel about our choices.
Jesus is the risen and ascended King of glory and we obey because He said so.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Once upon a time I was fearless.
At least that’s how I felt. Let me rephrase that. I wasn’t fearless; I just learned how to operate while afraid. For those who have never lived life as a first responder of some sort, you may never understand the fear that those who rush into danger feel. Most people run from the sound of gunfire or the inferno of an engulfed house. Most people want nothing to do with jumping out of a perfectly good airplane into a barren wasteland of mountains or deserts where there are thousands of people who want to kill you.
But soldiers, firefighters, cops and first responders run toward that sort of danger; they run into the gunfight, they charge into a house on fire, they jump into a combat zone on purpose. They don’t do it because they’re not afraid. In fact, I used to say to rookies that I trained that if you’re not afraid, then you’re dangerous and I don’t want to work with you.
Make no mistake. They are afraid. But what sets us/them apart is that they have learned how to harness that fear and operate in spite of it. In fact, if trained properly, fear can be very powerful.
That was me.
Now, I feel afraid all the time. I fear things that I don’t even know how to define. I don’t even have categories for my fears now. So much pain over the last three years, so much disappointment, so much betrayal and abandonment have left me, on good days, with a mild feeling of unease. On bad days, I feel like I can’t even move well or think straight.
Fear of more pain, more “failures” have, at times, even made me afraid to dream.
I’m reading through the gospel of St. Matthew right now. The other day I read this story:
“After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31, NASB)
I’m struck by some things, a lot of things, in this text. Maybe it will speak to your fear as it has to mine. Let me start with this.
It took great courage for Peter to do what he did. Would you have done that?! Not me. I’d have stayed my pasty white tail in the boat and been like, “Nope, you come here. I ain’t going out there.” But let’s think about this for a second. Was it really safer for Peter where Jesus was not? I think Peter was the smartest guy in the bunch. He recognized that the safest place to be was where Jesus was. Sure he took his eyes off Jesus and doubted.
But so have you. And so have I.
But Peter knew something about Jesus that maybe we need to see in our fear. Even in the terrifying moments of our deepest fears and insecurities, the safest place we can be is where Jesus is. Who else commands the waves and seas? Who else walks on the water that he created so many thousands of years before? Who else can do what Jesus does, has done and is doing?
No one! The point of this story isn’t Peter or the “storms of your life” or whatever or even my fear. The point of this story and my story and your story is Jesus.
He is God-in-the-flesh.
He is the living Word of God.
He is the One by whom all things were created and for whom all things were created.
He is the One who went to the cursed tree of Calvary to set you free.
Not free from fear or sickness or problems on this earth. He has set you free from the power of sin and death!! Oh, dear friend, this is our antidote for fear! Jesus has come! Repent and believe on Him and you will be saved! I need to be reminded of this daily.
Jesus has overcome sin and death! In him, you don’t have to fear death, I don’t have to fear failure or weakness or uncertainty. He has overcome!
Hear the words of our Saviour.
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Fear not. He is with you, as He is with me. Now go…and be fearless!
Soli Deo Gloria!