What Are We Afraid Of?

     A speaker entered the congregation and began to teach the people from the word of God. He ended his discourse with a challenge. He told them that the vilest class (in their eyes) of non-believers would respond to his message more readily than they would. This enraged his audience to such a degree that they all rose up and attempted to kill him. That speaker was Jesus and the incident is recorded in Luke 4:16-29.

     If a speaker comes to your church and says something that convicts you, what would you do? I’m sure you wouldn’t physically leap out of your seat with murder in your eyes, we’re much more civilized than that nowadays aren’t we? Instead we’d probably resort to using another method of destruction – our tongues. Backbiting, complaining, attacking with venomous words can be just as effective. We certainly wouldn’t have that speaker back again and if it is coming from the pastor, well, then we’ll try and get rid of him too. We’ll do anything but receive correction and repent – because we are terrified.

     Jesus sent a pack of demons into a herd of swine, (Mark 5:1-17). The herd was destroyed and so was the economy of that particular Jewish community. Jews were forbidden to eat pigs, so why were they keeping them? These animals were frequently used for sacrifice in pagan religious ceremonies, so in addition to those Jews developing a forbidden taste for pork chops, the pigs were probably also being raised to sell for a purpose that God despised. Jesus was asked to leave. Some people can’t bear to lose their swine herds no matter what form their compromise takes them.

     Jesus confronted a large assembly of His followers and challenged them to “Eat My flesh and drink My blood”, (John 6:53-66). In other words, a superficial relationship with Him is not what He is looking for. To ingest Him is to desire intimacy. He wants to come inside. Well, that was too much for this particular group and almost everyone left except for twelve of them. They were His disciples.

     His disciples were not afraid to be challenged. When they were convicted they did not rebel, but were willing to repent and be changed. They were willing to let go of their pet pig sins and let Him cast them into the sea. They were willing to eat His flesh, His words, and drink of His blood, His Spirit, because they knew they had no where else to go. They knew they had the precious treasure of the truth, and they were willing, as the history of their lives attests, to endure anything, even torture and death to keep it.

     They were His disciples and this is what God is calling us to be – disciples. But we are terrified. What are we so afraid of? Change. Jesus wants to change us into the people He wants us to be.

     The religious, self-righteous, spiritually superior element inside us won’t let go of its pride, so it turns it into a weapon and vehemently attacks when it is convicted.

     The carnal side of our natures cradles its pigs of compromise, lust, greed, envy and a variety of forms of self gratification and wants Jesus to leave us alone to wallow in the mire with our pet sins.

     And the part of us that is following Jesus stops and vacates the premises whenever Jesus reminds us that He’d really like to have some quality time with us alone and allow Him to gain full control of our lives.

     Yet He continues sifting through the multitudes of those who claim to know Him like a prospector pans for gold. And the ones who can remain like those twelve disciples are the treasure He is searching for. Because these are the ones He can use to bless and save others. These are the ones who will go where He tells them to go and will joyfully follow the leading of His spirit to fulfill His purposes and expand the kingdom of God.

     Will you let Him sift you? Will you drop your pride and let Him convict you and not rebel against what He is trying to accomplish on the inside? Will you let him cast your swine herds into the sea? Will you open the door of your heart and let Him in to dine with you intimately?

     Eat His words and ingest His Spirit and let Him change you into a true disciple.

     What are you afraid of?

Copyright 2002 by H.D. Shively

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