Fear and change

I spoke about our fears this past Easter Sunday and how Jesus’ victory over death puts our fears in perspective, especially our fear of dying.  The next day, this was the reading in Forward Day by Day based on Matthew 28:9-15

I once conducted a service of worship shortly after Easter for the patients of a mental hospital. I began by asking the congregation, mostly patients, what they thought the first words spoken by Jesus when he returned to the disciples might have been. They answered, “Do not be afraid.”

Those who are ill in the way that those patients were know with a certain instinct what the words of life are. When the struggle for existence has defeated you, you withdraw into fear: fear of enemies in the far distance; fear of “them;” even fear of yourself. Life is lived in terms of suspicion, never of trust.

We all exist on a continuum, I think, with those patients; we are all somewhat ill. Jesus comes and wipes away our fear. For many of us it is the fear of being wrong, the fear that we will be less than we thought we were, the fear that we will fail and our dreams come to nothing. If we will hear his words and trust him, then we can start again, this time on the basis of a sure hope, never again because we are afraid.

Jesus comes and wipes away our fears.  The result: We should expect to be changed.  And that connects with something Neil deKoning writes at the CRC’s Network I just read…

…The [Good Friday and Easter] story we tell was not intended to simply give us a wonderful celebration 2000 years later. Jesus came to bring change. Forgiveness, reconciliation, new life, and the power of resurrection are descriptions of change. The way of the cross is a description of change. We believe that in this way God brings redemption into our lives…

What does this mean for our ministry? What change ought we be praying for – not in general but in the particulars of our members and in our community? If Jesus said the way to transform lives and communities is through the power of the cross and the victory of the resurrection, what impact ought that have on the way we do ministry among the members?

Just asking the questions forces us to consider our ministry. Do we have a vision of change that is born out of our understanding of work of Jesus? Do we believe that confession and forgiveness, that self-sacrificial love, that the Emmaus Bible study (Luke 24), that obedient suffering are in fact transformational practices of the Christian life? Do we believe that communities bound in unity to Christ serving Christ can deeply impact community life?

Change is not easy. I look at the trouble of our communities and the struggles of community development and I see countless obstacles. But I notice that God in his ministry of changing the world went to the cross. It was the only way. If this is what God did, there is wisdom in seeking to follow that path…

Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.”  How does that change you?  How will that change the way you interact with your family and neighbours?

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