Finding the Fearless Life

Today I want to focus on “Finding the Fearless Life.” So much of what we do, or do not do for that matter is unknowingly dictated by our fears. The fear of being rejected, the fear of looking out of place, the fear of being seen as pious, prideful, shameful, ugly, or just plain dumb. I want you to think about what you are most afraid of and why?

With today being Pentecost Sunday, it only seems appropriate for us to focus this morning’s message on the Holy Spirit. For some reason it often seems like we leave the Holy Spirit on the sidelines when discussing God, Jesus, or the Trinity. But today is going to be different. I want us to find courage, to find a sense of boldness knowing that the Spirit is within us as believers, and because of that we can truly “Find the Fearless Life.”

I have a lot more fears than I am sometimes willing to admit. Now I am not talking about the healthy fear of clowns or snakes, but the kinds of fears that keep me from living the life God intended for me to live. I am talking about the kind of fears that make me hold tight to my possessions or the people in my life as if they are my true sustenance. I am talking about the kind of fear that keeps me from reaching out to others because I am afraid I won’t have the right words, or that I might be rejected or made fun of for mentioning Christ, or my church life. I am talking about the kind of fear, my biggest fear actually, that when I stand before God when this world is behind me, that I will have left His works for me undone. It is incredible how fear can sometimes paralyze us from action.

You don’t have to be an expert to help. Far too often the fear of not knowing the exact right answers keeps us from reaching out to others, it cuts us off from the rest of humanity.

I want to read you a quote today from a man by the name of Tertullian who was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa during the time of the early church, just a generation or two following Christ’s time on this earth. These are his words:

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless. (Tertullian)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t often describe Christians as fearless, or the church for that matter. The early church was an unstoppable force; can we say that about the church today? Can we say that about Central? Looking back in the book of Acts at how the early church cared for one another and stood in the face of persecution, it is not hard to see why Tertullian would have described Christians as fearless. Unfortunately, due in large part to our increased comfort levels and lack of real community, the fearless life is about as foreign to us as the technology of today would have been to the early church.

Don’t we all, if we are truly honest long for a fearless life? Don’t we wish we could be a bit more bold and confident in our faith and our beliefs, so we could joyously share with those around us God’s saving grace and comforting presence? Don’t we all wish that we could courageously come before God and before men knowing that we have nothing to fear, or to hide?
I want you to close your eyes for me this morning as I paint you into a scene. Remember that fear I had you think of earlier this morning? I want you to picture yourselves in the middle of it right now. Perhaps it is losing a loved one, or a job, or your reputation. Perhaps it is someone finding out your secret shame and struggles, or it could even be the fear of what you are currently facing in your life. Picture yourself in the midst of this fear all alone, without family, without friends, without the support of those that you have learned to lean on. Let the fear wash over you, stand in it, breathe it in.
Stay in that place of fear while I read you these words from the Gospel of John:

John 14:15-21 New International Version (NIV)
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Friends we are not orphans, we are never alone. God has sent the Holy Spirit to live in us, and to work through us the saving grace found in the life and death of Jesus the Christ. I want us to be a people of action. I want us to run after God with abandon. I want to trade in my fear for the courage found in a life linked to the Holy Spirit.

I want to share with you one last quote this morning, and it is from a book entitled Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, and I find his words both challenging and comforting because his words are my own, and perhaps they will resonate with you this morning as well.

As for me I am tired of talking about what we are going to do. I am sick of talking about helping people, of brainstorming and conferencing about ways we can be radical and make sacrifices. I don’t want to merely talk anymore. Life is too short. I don’t want to speak about Jesus: I want to know Jesus. I want to be Jesus to people. I don’t want to just write [or talk] about the Holy Spirit; I want to experience His presence in my life in a profound way. (Forgotten God, pg. 153)

My prayer for all of us, is that we invite the Holy Spirit to not just fill our worship spaces, but to fill our very lives as well, with a fearless determination to live lives worthy of the cross?

June 13, 2011 <> Mike Warneke

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