I just finished this RBC devotional last week, and though it isn’t quite ready for prime time, I thought that its content might provoke some thoughts in a sermon this Sunday, or at least give you something to preach against. Easter is the one Sunday I have never been able to preach, as most pastors don’t take that Sunday off, but at least I can give ideas to others.
faith and fear
read > Matthew 14:27-29
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
Death scares me. I love my life and I don’t want it to end. There is also a part of me that wonders what the afterlife is really like. What if it’s different from what the Bible says?
Some people might think that my fears are unchristian and a threat to my faith. On the contrary, I think that they are not only normal—who honestly isn’t afraid of the great beyond?—but also they play an important role in my faith. Fear doesn’t prevent me from having faith; fear actually presents the possibility for great faith.
It would be no great shakes for Peter to walk on land, but to lower himself over the side of the boat and splash through whitecaps toward our Lord—that took faith. Of course, we can be overwhelmed by fear and lose our faith. But we can also channel our fear into Peter’s desperate cry as he began to sink, “Save me, Lord!”
Faith does not mean that we’re not afraid, but it is the courage to stand tall and to hang on in the middle of our fears. And the greater our fears, the stronger our faith can become.
We place our faith in Jesus whose resurrection has defeated death. If we minimize death and claim that it’s no big deal, then we inadvertently also cheapen Christ’s resurrection which conquered it. But if we honestly admit that death is the enemy that terrifies us, then we can begin to appreciate the unparalleled power of the resurrection.
Faith doesn’t suppress fear and pretend that everything is okay. But with shaky knees and sweaty palms, faith swallows hard and clings to God’s promise that we will live again. Death is frightening, and for that reason it provides the ultimate test of our faith.—Mike Wittmer
more > But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).
next > In what sense is faith the opposite of fear? Do faith and fear cancel each other, or is it possible to have both at the same time?