Do Not Be Afraid…

I spent this past weekend at the Politics and Spirituality conference with the Beatitudes Society both of which I have much to write about and will do so over the next week or two.  But in this moment I continue to think of this day as the anniversary of September 11, one of the saddest America has witnessed since I’ve been around (’78).

Yesterday during our time of worship at the conference we participated in a Thomas Mass, Father Richard Rhor performed the ceremony.  It was absolutely lovely, and during it Jim Wallis (of Sojouners) shared with us about Jesus’ healing the deaf and mute man in the Gospel of Mark [this post is inspired by more of what he said about Jesus’ own ministry].

It’s important on this day, September 11, 2006 for the church to hear the words of Christ when he says,

“Peace I leave with you you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world dives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (Jn14:27).???

Jesus reminds the church that we are to be characterized by peace and not fear – the world gives us fear; the media, the government, our businesses and schools are often characterized by fear, but the Spirit is not. 

238365507 Faff1Da6DbWhen we hide in fear we are closed off to the call of the Gospel, that’s why Christ repeats these words “do not be afraid??? in many and various situations throughout the Gospels.  The call of God, to himself in reconciliation is a call to hope, redemption and reconciliation. 

The Gospel is a call to security but not safety. 

This is something we Christian Americans lose sight of easily.  Surrounded by so much wealth and power, we have been put in a position where we feel the need to protect this at all cost.  Protecting wealth and power at all cost is anti-gospel. God gives us security (the security of his everlasting love, the hope of eternal life, the peace of the Spirit), but he does not guarantee us safety. 

When we are afraid we are closed down to the deep calls of the Gospel, the Gospel makes little sense to those who love their safety more than the salvation of the world.

Safety is an idol of American Christianity.
Vulnerability is necessary for a life of faith.  When we are made vulnerable our true master is revealed: power, money, the government, education, prestige, or the simple Gospel Jesus. 
Today – the church must remember to put our hope and our life’s work in the peace and love of Christ, not the fearful rhetoric of the media.  If the church is afraid, and crippled by the stifling terror of darkness found outside the hope of the Gospel, then we cannot offer the world anything different nor can we expect a different response. 

Our faith is not based on fear but hope.

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Published by Wess Daniels

Teacher, author, Quaker, ​and public theologian. Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College.

8 thoughts on “Do Not Be Afraid…

  1. I appreciate what Peggy and you have written of, of late, regarding the idol of security and that faith is based out of hope and not of fear. It feels as if we in the U.S. have lived in a state of “war and rumors of war” too long.

  2. Wess,

    First, I’m so glad you were able to link up with the Beatitudes Society! I’m eager to hear more.

    Second, you wrote, “The Gospel is a call to security but not safety.” This echoes — almost word for word — the single most powerful piece of vocal ministry I heard at Pacific Yearly Meeting. I was thinking of that just this weekend… There is certainly more to be said and explored around around this topic.

    — Chris M.

  3. Chris – thanks for the comment, it’s very possible that I heard this first from you when we were together and borrowed it. I know it’s not new to me and whoever said it to me it stuck, because it rung true with me as well.

  4. Let us, then, pray with all fervor for this peace which our divine Redeemer came to bring us. May He banish from the souls of men whatever might endanger peace. May He transform all men into witnesses of truth, justice and brotherly love. May He illumine with His light the minds of rulers, so that, besides caring for the proper material welfare of their peoples, they may also guarantee them the fairest gift of peace.

    Finally, may Christ inflame the desires of all men to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through His power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them.

    -John XXIII

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