We Must Not Be Afraid
By Austin Donahoo
Last Sunday, Matt preached from Psalm 27. The words of this passage push back against the many distractions in our lives that lead us to seek worldly possessions and expectations. David, the author of this Psalm, gives praise to the Lord in the midst of his persecution and the all-too-keen reality of an actual army surrounding him. David did not get distracted by his foes or the hatred they had towards him. Instead, David stood back and remembered what is of utmost importance: the reality of the Lord and his far-surpassing value over what the world offers. This can be seen in the very first verse. David proclaims, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”. I fear that this statement is read over to the point where we miss the absurdity of such a claim. The world looks around and sees an army ready to destroy this earthly king and yet David exhorts others that there is someone much greater than this current darkness. In line with what Matt exposited from the text last week, we must seek to have a similar attitude even though we often fear the expectations and judgments of others.
Aliens and Sojourners
One biblical way to combat the falsehoods of the world’s expectations is being reminded that we are not at home in this world. We are resident aliens in this fallen world. Matt correctly noted yesterday that “we have forgotten what it means to be strangers and aliens in this world.” To expand on this point, I believe that this forgetfulness results from being in a culture where we are primarily focused on fulfilling the boss’s orders, filling the bank, getting the degree, and many more requirements that may be beneficial in our lives but are not of utmost importance to God and his purposes for our lives.
One way that this has fleshed itself out in my life is my intense desire for many years to accomplish as much as I could academically in order to show people around me that even though I may not be athletic or “cool”, I was at least academically above par. This illusory goal in pleasing those around me by showing my academic prowess led to many struggles with anxiety, feelings of being overwhelmed, and other consequences that did not allow me to remember that my true value in this world comes from being adopted as a son of the living God. As I have grown into this beautiful reality of being in the family of the Lord, I have been able to receive his grace and mercy more freely as I am not constantly trying to seek the approval of the world. This is still a battle I face, but it is now one I can fight while in the arms of the One who saved me.
Take the World, Give Me Jesus
One blunt statement by Matt last Sunday was very helpful in understanding our position in the world as Christians. “The world already thinks you are weird.” Essentially it comes down to the fact that we are already a point of ridicule because of our faith in Jesus. Just as Jesus was mocked and ridiculed, he promised the same for those who take up their crosses and follow him. While I can see how this may be troubling to those who still struggle (as I do) with trying to please those around us, we should be encouraged that while the world may see us as “weird,” God calls us to his all-encompassing glory and majesty. This is a trade-off I am willing to make. I encourage you to do the same.