Some things that Jesus said quite often were “don’t worry” and “don’t be afraid”. He also called us his sheep. And wouldn’t you know it sheep are animals that get quite afraid. I once visited a sheep farm and the sheep farmer was telling me about his sheep. We were looking over by the fence into the large field where the sheep were.
A flock of them were standing about 30 feet away from us. The farmer told me that if he clapped his hands once quite loudly the whole flock of sheep would panic and run to the other side of the field.
Unfortunately we are like that. We are like sheep. We get afraid, we panic, we worry; we get impatient and scared. That’s our nature. There’s not much we can do about the way we are born: but we can change the way we live. And we can change the way we live is by trusting in God and trusting in His word.
I can say with the psalmist in Psalm 30:
“I am weary, O God;
I am weary and worn out, O God.
I am too stupid to be human,
and I lack common sense.
I have not mastered human wisdom,
nor do I know the Holy One.
Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down?
Who holds the wind in his fists?
Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak?
Who has created the whole wide world?
What is his name—and his son’s name?
Tell me if you know!
Every word of God proves true.He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.”
I can relate to that. I too am weary and worn out from the problems of life. I am too stupid and lack the common sense to live normally and peacefully. I haven’t mastered human wisdom. But I do trust in God and in His word.
You may be Somali searching for peace in your soul; searching for love and joy and the kind of life that you know deep in your heart exists if there is a God. And then the thought hits you like a farmer clapping his hands and watching the sheep panic and run to the other side of the field: “what happens if my family and community finds out I am a Christian.”
Panic grabs you and fear fills your soul. You freeze paralyzed with anxious thoughts and worry. You try to find a way out of your problem but there isn’t one. You come face to face with your own fears and worries and weaknesses. What can help you at time like this?
Jesus said: “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. …“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” – Matthew 10:26-31
It’s the word of God and the promises from God that can keep us at peace in times of trouble. Jesus acknowledges that “a single sparrow can fall to the ground” and die; and so will some of us, a very of us, at the hands of those who hate Christ. In times of trouble we need to stop the clock of fear and panic in our minds and trust in the Lord. One of the only ways I can do that is by fasting and praying which I am starting to do this morning.
I’ve got all sort of troubles that are overwhelming my soul: I’ve had an ongoing problem with frost in my attic which is damaging my roof and could cause a major expense for me; my ill daughter is slowly fading away while living in a home and being taken care of; there are problems with the ministry and getting work done and funding issues; and there are other problems which depress and consume me. So I need to fast and focus and God and renew my spiritual strength.
Jesus said: “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:32-33
Here Jesus tells his followers that they will scatter like sheep when He is arrested by the Romans to be killed by the Jews: “you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone.” But Jesus found His strength in God the Father just like we are supposed to do.
You know, I was sitting with my wife and a friend last night in a coffee shop and as so often does when I’m with this friend my mind was opened to the revelations of God and I thought about that Scripture that says:
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8
And I thought to myself, or rather the revelation came to me, what did Jesus Christ have to gain by allowing Himself to die on the cross for our sins?
Did Jesus not say in the Scriptures “Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” – John 17:5
Christ the Word of God left his throne and glory in heaven and appeared to us in human form upon the earth; Christ gave us His power and glory that He had in heaven; He set aside His rights and divine privileges as God and took upon Himself the humble appearance of a man and a servant to others. He had nothing to gain for Himself by giving up His glory and appearing in human form: He had it all; He is God and came down to earth and humbled Himself in human form and died upon the cross for our sins.
“While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Christ suffered and died for us; not for Himself; He already had all the glory and power ever available to Him – but He left His heavenly position and died for you and me. Why? He had nothing to gain but chose to lose everything for us.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
Why did God choose to save us this way? Why send His own Son to suffer and die for us? Why would Christ agree to die for us? He did it all for you and me. He had nothing to gain for Himself – He did it all for us; selfless love, sacrificial love, He counted the cost – you and me – and said to Himself – they are worth it; they are worth dying for. “Whom shall I send? Send me.”
May the Lord Jesus Christ help us in our lives to minister to others in the same way: not wanting anything for ourselves but desiring only to complete and fulfill the ministry God has called us to for the benefit of others and to serve them and to bless them – even if it means we will suffer and be persecuted for it. Why? Because others are worth it – it is worth living for and dying for serving others for Christ.