Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27 KJV)
Yes - that's the same verse from yesterday, with the same graphic. Some lessons I don't get on the first go-around and have to be reminded that they really are for me - personally.
My family knows how many years I've gone ignoring the "Fear Not"s of the Bible, along with the offers of His peace. How many times I've visualized boxing up those fears and disturbances and handing them off to Him, knowing He promised to take them and leave us with only His will to consider. I have failed so miserably at that!
Yet, I continue to believe that's the way it should be. No matter what.
When I was a teen, I remember reading about missionaries to Brazil's Amazon basin who were killed. It happened again, not often but enough to remind us that carrying God's message of love and caring for others could be dangerous.
More often, though, we met missionaries at conferences or having them speak at our churches and we heard of difficulties, some dangers - but not much more than what we face in daily commutes - and lots of stories of salvation and joy. I became complacent - send missionaries to new fields of harvest and God cares for them in wondrous ways. That remains true - but the world has changed.
Now it's not just missionaries who are in danger. Instead of Jim Jones' or David Koresh's dangerous personality cults, this age is faced with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's. He is not fighting just Christians, but all who do not believe as he does. Just as Hitler drew the power-hungry as he exhibited strength, so does al-Baghdadi, over the bodies of all non-believers, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist. This does generate fear as his followers strike in Europe during daily activities.
Yet - I see the pictures of 21 Christians along the shores of the Mediterranean. They are not struggling with their captors, though they must have understood what would happen to them, dressed in their orange prison uniforms. They died - partly because they were Egyptians, but mostly because they were Christian.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV)
There was no discussion as to whether or not they were offered the opportunity to deny their faith, but it was reported that at least one man died with the name "Jesus" upon his lips.
That shows me just how small my fears have been - and are. Just how little I have to fear, and how much I have been blessed. My lack is not in safety, but in sharing what God has done by providing for us eternally. For those who deny His existence, His caring for His creation and the disbelief of His work with mankind, I can only offer a philosopher's questions:
If you are right and I am wrong, what have I lost?
If, however, I am right and you are wrong, what have you lost?Consider carefully. The answer may make all the difference in the world, and in the next.