Fear is a debilitating sickness. It is a sickness of the mind and soul that can spread to every part of your life–your work, your relationships, your mission, even your body. It’s no wonder that fear is one of Satan’s go to weapons. The right amount of fear in the wrong place will literally stop you in your tracks!
During his year and a half stay in Corinth the apostle Paul had a serious battle with fear. In his first letter to the Corinthians he looked back on his experience and wrote, “I was with you in a state of weakness, fear, and much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). The threat that fear would bring his gospel ministry to a halt was so great that Jesus appeared to him one night to give courage and strength.
And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” Acts 18:9 – 10
Wow, can you imagine that: Jesus giving you a fear destroying dream? Sounds great! And I’m certain it would be great. However, the best part about what happened in Acts 18 was not the dream, but the truth that Jesus gave Paul in the dream. It was the message Paul received, not the dream in and of itself, that pushed Paul passed his fear. Jesus commanded Paul, “Do not be afraid.” Now how do you obey a command like that? You’re struggling and someone says, “stop it!” You want to stop it, you just don’t know how. No one likes being caught in the thick of fear, we it want to stop. But how? Thankfully Jesus gave Paul some truth that enabled his command. (Like Augustine said, “O God, command what you will and give what you command.”) The great thing for you and I is that the enabling message Jesus gave Paul is resoundingly true for us today and can absolutely destroy your fears. There are two parts to what Jesus goes on to say.
- I am with you. There is no greater comfort than this word. Jesus, the creator and sustainer of the universe, the one who wields power over every molecule is with you. Jesus put it this way to his disciples. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus has literally overcome everything that you could possibly fear–and he is with you!
- I have many in this city who are my people. It’s true that “I am with you” is enough. But there is another great truth Jesus gives. He looks at Paul an says, “You’re not alone. I have other sons an daughters in this place. Yes there are hardships and daunting tasks that cause you to fear, but I am with you AND I have others in this city doing my work.” Jesus is talking about the church. There is great comfort and strength in the body of Christ. And, make sure you catch this, it’s NOT ‘strength in numbers.’ It’s strength and comfort through what only the church can do: prayer, biblical encouragement, speaking truth into one another’s lives, partnering together for the sake of the gospel. No matter where you are, whatever city, whatever country, there are others in that place that belong to Jesus.
I want us to remember these two truths. Jesus, our Savior King, looks at us and commands us, “Be bold, do not be afraid, keep on sharing my life-giving gospel with everyone you can!” The command is daunting, but praise be to God that it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders to make it happen. Jesus is with you! And you’re not alone! Right now you are called to the mission of Christ. Jesus himself is with you, and there are others who belong to Jesus that have been called to labour alongside you. So don’t be afraid, keep speaking the truth and do not be silent!