I was given some magazines this week put out by a prominent evangelical organization. The covers of each of them (accompanied by full cover photos of explosions, fire, and swords read):
“Is Islam really a religion of peace?” (Photo of a bloody sword)
“Crisis After Crisis, who can save us?- Pestilence as Ebola Spreads, Oppression of Christians in USA”
“Destined for the Lake of Fire : Cowards”
It seems, no matter what the content of these magazines might be, that their sale strategy is one of fear.
It’s the same in South Africa. For some reason, people seem to get a morbid satisfaction out of telling each other horrific stories of hijackings and robberies. Maybe we think telling the stories out loud will keep them from haunting our dreams– or maybe we secretly like hearing our worst fears confirmed. I know of a woman who kept a scrapbook of every horrific incident of violent crime in the South African newspaper for the year before her family immigrated to Australia. Like something from the movie The Village, she took the book with her to show her children why they felt forced to leave South Africa.
As opposed to this, the Christmas story is full of Fear Nots.
Mary, fear not, you’ve found favor with God.
Joseph, fear not to take Mary as your wife.
Zachariah, fear not, God has heard your prayer, your wife is pregnant.
Shepherds, fear not, we’re bringing good tidings of great joy for everyone.
It seems the message God wanted to spread through his messengers at the birth of Christ was that we should not be afraid.
We don’t have to be afraid of evil, even in the valley of the shadow of Death, because God is with us. We don’t have to be afraid of God’s holiness anymore, because of Christ our sin won’t bring us death. We won’t die in the holiest of holies. We can walk right in and approach it.
And we don’t have to fear death. The birth of Jesus is the beginning of death’s defeat.
Perfect love casts out fear. We have no fear of judgement, we have no fear of death– Christians should be the most joyful, confident, self-giving people on the planet.
In “Tales of the Kingdom” people play a game called “Sight the King”. It’s like a giant game of hide and seek, that is always being played, all the time. The king wears different disguises, and shows up in the most unexpected places. Sometimes he looks like a nurse at the healing house. Sometimes he is sweeping the streets of the mud that people sling at each other. Sometimes he is hunting for lost children hiding in dark places. Sometimes he looks like a beggar. Sometimes he looks like a taxi-driver. The king is everywhere– you just have to look for him. Princess Amanda tells Little Child, the orphan who escaped from the Enchanter and still struggles with fear, that “Sighters are not afraid.”
Sighters are not afraid.
The people who see the King everywhere fear not. There is no fear where the King is. And the King is here.
Maybe you know someone like that?
Someone generous, because they’re not afraid their money is going to run out tomorrow.
Someone who lovingly welcomes new people, because they’re not afraid of saying goodbye.
Someone who is quick to honor other people’s gifts and talents, and finds ways to make others shine, because they’re not afraid of losing the spotlight.
Someone who wears their comfy sweaters, because they’re not afraid of what people think.
Someone who lives in the inner city, because they know God is still there, and God is good and their life belongs to him.
Someone who is willing to really listen to, and befriend a Muslim, a lesbian, an atheist, because they’re not afraid. They know these are people. They know they are loved. They are not opponents anymore, they are lost friends.
They are confident that all truth is God’s truth, and there is nothing they can discover that will change that, so they are free to listen and learn from those who are different.
Someone who has children, even though there is radiation poisoning and Ebola and revolutions and nuclear bombs.
Someone who knows how to laugh.
Those are Christmas people. Those are sighters.
“There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear.” I John 4:18