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Are you motivated by fear

VIEWS: 26 PAGES: 3

									                          Pentecost 5 – June 15, 2008
             Matthew 10:24-33 “Don‟t Be Afraid To Proclaim
        Are you motivated by fear? A study was done late last year in England on 281
people to see how fear motivated them. Specifically they wanted to target fear about
physical appearance. They used half as their control group and the other half they
researched. They took the second half, the 140, told them to imagine themselves as
very physically unattractive, and then split them into two groups. They had the first half
imagine they dramatically failed to keep a fitness program. They had the second half
imagine they succeeded. The researchers then asked which group would keep going to
the gym. They found that overwhelmingly the people who thought about the dramatic
failure said they would keep going at the physical fitness program. Now I don‟t know
how scientifically accurate this research is. But it does reveal something. Fear is a
powerful motivator, one of the strongest. How about in your own life? Do you have a car
or house alarm? Do you have insurance? Dads, do you find yourself holding on to the
keys at certain times or certain days of the week? We are all motivated by fear
sometimes. Today Jesus wants us to think about how fear affects us, especially when it
comes to telling his truth. We‟ll look at that in Matthew 10:24-33. Does fear affect how
you share his message?
        When I think of people in American history who did not seem affected by fear, I
think of Martin Luther King Jr. When 200,000 people showed up at the Lincoln Memorial
in Washington DC back in 1963 to hear him speak, what do you think they expected to
hear? A powerful speech? A moving message? An energetic speaker? Words to
motivate? All of that, and so much more. What would you expect to hear from Jesus on
such an occasion? Here it is. This is his “go get 'em” speech. You're someplace in
northern Galilee, not far from Nazareth. Jesus is in front of you. The other 11 are around
you. Jesus just told you, “Go. Be a prophet. Tell them about my work. And show them
what I do. Heal them. Raise the dead back to life. Send the evil spirits away. Love my
people. Show them my heart. But watch out. Not everyone will love you. Some will try to
stop you. They'll even succeed. They'll arrest you. They'll hate you. Not only will you do
good, but you are going to cause problems.
        How does that make you feel? Sad? Scared? Afraid? Isn‟t that because of the
cost of being Christ‟s follower? And just think about that for a minute. Do we ponder
what we signed up for when we joined Christ's church? Do we think about the solemn
vow we made when we were confirmed? Sure, we recognize it. But have we absorbed
it? Have we taken the privileges and responsibilities to heart? Think about it. You are a
little Christ. Do you accept the hard times that are going to come so you can be Jesus
on earth?
        Are you afraid yet? Jesus knows you are, even if you don't. He says in v26, “So
do not be afraid of them.” Jesus assumes you're going to be afraid when the world is
against you. You've probably seen it in the movies. The tough hero has been captured
by the bad guys. He knows where something has been hidden, and they want it. They
tie the hero up. The evil leader pulls out a knife and sticks it in a fire. The blade is so hot
its red. Then he slowly advances on our hero. Even though he tries as hard as he can,
our hero can't control himself. He pulls his head back, his eyes get bigger, his lungs fill
up to scream in pain. He can‟t help but be afraid because of the coming pain.
        Why does Jesus assume we're going to be afraid? He must know us better than
we know ourselves. He knows what sin does to us. So what is it that makes you afraid?
Are you too attached to this world? Are you uncertain about your position before God?
Are you afraid of what life would be like if you acted as a Christian? Or are you just
afraid to stick your head out, because, figuratively speaking, someone might chop it off?
Whatever the reason, Jesus knows we're going to be afraid. He knows that sin corrupts
our hearts and our wills. He knows it weakens our resolve.
        Jesus wants us to not be afraid. He wants us to be confident. That's why he tells
us: Don't be afraid. But why? With sin so strong in us, what reasons do we have for not
being afraid?
        Some people might say that being an American means I don't have to be afraid
of persecution. To a point, they would be right. What people call “persecution” in
America is nothing like what goes on in the rest of the world. But being an American
does not make you immune to persecution. How many of us have tried to stand up for
our church or for Jesus at work and found ourselves quickly shot down? Others have
talked to a friend or family member about a sin and received back that cutting response,
“Mind your own business.” On top of this, America seems to be less and less approving
of true Christianity, of the message that Jesus died for your sins and my sins. At any
time, America could change, and our Christianity would be completely unacceptable. So
be careful. Have you found false comfort in the fact that you are an American?
        Christians might even have what sound like good biblical reasons not to be
afraid. We might say, God will protect me from any real danger. God does promise to
protect us. In Psalm 32, David says to God, “You will protect me from trouble.” But look
at the book of Acts. God protected those people, yet he let them be stoned and left for
dead. No, we can't say, “God will protect me from any real danger”, because God will
use all of life for the good of his kingdom.
        We might even look at the verse right before our section, verse 23, and read,
“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” We might think, Well, if
something bad starts to happen, I'll just leave. But this isn't a reason not to be afraid
either. When the Apostle Paul left the persecution of one city, he went on to the next city
to get persecuted more. It's going to happen. And so we see that reasons we come up
with won‟t keep us from being afraid. We aren‟t going to find any real peace in them. We
need to look at God's reasons not to be afraid.
        First, God says in the second half of verse 26, “There is nothing concealed
that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known.” What is Jesus
telling us? In the end, everything that happens, that we did, we said, that someone else
did or said, is going to public knowledge. So if we stood up for God's message and were
persecuted for it, it'll come out. We'll have something to be proud of someday, and God
will be proud of us.
        God also says, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is
whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” He tells you more than don‟t be
afraid. He wants you to be bold. He has a message you should be confident in. It's a
message you can tell anywhere, even from places we would consider foolish.
        What's the third reason not to be afraid? “Do not be afraid of those who kill
the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy
both soul and boy in hell.” If you are concerned about your physical body and worldly
things, you'll find no confidence here. But if you are concerned about God and his ways,
this has all the comfort. As David said in Psalm 56, “In God I trust I will not be afraid,
what can mortal man do to me?” God is the only one who matters.
        Do you notice something though, about all these reasons not to be afraid? They
could all be taken the other way. It can be a good thing that God is the only one to be
afraid of, but it could also be a bad thing. As Jesus said, he can destroy your soul. It can
be a good thing that everything will be public knowledge one day, but it could be a bad
thing. What about all the mistakes I made? So how do we know that Jesus wants to
make us bold to proclaim his word?
        Look at the picture Jesus used about sparrows. How many sparrows do you think
there are in the world? Thousand? Millions? At least millions. What if over 4 million died
in just a day? Well, that did happen. Back in 1958, the Chinese decided that the
sparrows were eating too much food. Their people needed more food. So they had a
special day for killing sparrows. They killed over 4 million. The hero of the day was a 16
year old boy who killed an estimated 20,000 birds. So sad. And God knew about every
one of them. And as much as he cares about his creation, he must have been broken
hearted about it.
        If God cares so much about the birds of his creation, how much more does he
care about you, the crown of his creation? To know, all you have to do is look at the
man Jesus, telling you not be afraid. He put on flesh, to be like you. People derided him
and scorned him all his life for doing what God wanted. They persecuted him for telling
God‟s message. He forgave sinners who didn't stand up for his message. He died
because we don't tell his truth and we don't do it in the right way. He rose and ascended
to heaven so he could speak the truth of his love for you right to your heart and live their
in your heart. Now he tells his message through you. That's how much he cares for you.
        And so he is certainly not the one to be afraid of. There‟s no sin for him to hold
against. Christ paid for it all. And so we have no reason to be afraid of the world. When
Jesus tells us that everything will be made known, he means that as a good thing. He
wants us to know he is proud of our work. It's good that this message should be
proclaimed from all the strangest places in broad daylight, because its a bold message
with a bold Savior behind it. Christ wants us to not be afraid to proclaim.
        A few days ago, a very well-respected man in our congregation told me about an
evangelism experience. He went to a gay pride fest to pass out some literature on our
congregation and tell people about Christ. He said that the intimidation before he went
was more difficult than actually being there and talking to people. While he was there,
the Holy Spirit gave him the words he needed, which is another promise God has given
us. But he knew there is no reason to let fear stop him. And we have no reason to let
fear stop us. Christ has made us bold. So go get „em. And don't be afraid to proclaim.


                Preached by Nathaniel Timmermann on June 15, 2008 at
                      St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

								
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