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March 16, 2012

Confronting fear in our Christian walk

by Dave Malnes

“Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”  (Luke 5:10 b)

I wonder what Simon Peter was afraid about.  I mean, Simon Peter.  The guy who was the original “Rock”, who attempted to walk on water, who boldly professed his faith when Jesus inquired, who pulled out his sword in the garden and swiped off an ear of a nearby soldier.  I’ve always pictured him as this big, burly guy with a long beard pouring over a massive chest. The kind of guy you would want to stand next to when things got dicey.  Yet, there is Jesus telling him to not be afraid after reeling in a large number of fish with their nets.

Perhaps Simon caught a glimpse of himself and he didn’t like what he saw.  Though strong on the outside, he knew the real truth on the inside.  Simon Peter was a weak man.  A sinful man.  For people like Simon Peter who try so hard to convince others of his talents, his strengths or his intelligence, to admit a chink in the armor would be unfathomable, risky, even scary.  No wonder Simon Peter was afraid.  No wonder he told Jesus to go away from him.  He not only realized his weakness, but was acknowledging a superior strength.  A strength greater than his own.  A type of strength that fully recognizes that for a man who is used to self-sufficiency as a mode for survival, and has the battered hands and a weathered face to prove it, he is confronted with the spiritual and eternal fact that there is a living God who provides.  The full net of fish proved it.  And there he is, standing right in front of him.  That realization of who Peter is, and what he needed, brought him to his knees.

But, perhaps there is something more.

Simon Peter, the fisherman, was told that he was going to be a fisher of men.  That must have been a scary thought.  They type of thought that convinces a middle-aged man to make a radical change in his life; whether a new career, a new outlook, a new sports car or a new relationship.  A type of change that can be a great asset, or a disastrous consequence — especially on a family.  Simon Peter must have sensed it.  Here before him was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, God made flesh, and his purpose for Peter was to be his disciple.  He was on the verge of a great adventure that was going to be well beyond his self.  Confronted with that thought, Peter confessed that he was afraid.

And I can’t really blame him.

When confronted with my sinful self; when challenged to respond in way that forces me to exhibit fruits of the spirit in difficult circumstances, when provided opportunities to be a witness to the light and salt to the earth, my first response, too, is to be afraid.  I’m left with one of two options, to confess my sins or to disappear into the darkness of guilt and do nothing.  Or, respond poorly exhibiting a lack of trust, desire, and motivation.  But, Jesus knows this. He knows our condition for he experienced it himself.  He says, “Don’t be afraid” because he has already done everything.  Our sins are forgiven.  Our guilt is resolved.  The Spirit will not leave us, despite what we might feel or think.  We are God’s children.  The empty tomb proves it.  And Jesus just doesn’t lie.

With realization of sin or guilt, comes transformation of body and spirit.  A re-connection, a re-wiring, maybe even a re-booting — that type of action of just simply turning on the power switch to our converter after the battery to our laptop dies.  Jesus turns on the light and we simply become a light.

“Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”  (Luke 5:10 b)

I wonder what Simon Peter was afraid about.  I mean, Simon Peter.  The guy who was the original “Rock”, who attempted to walk on water, who boldly professed his faith when Jesus inquired, who pulled out his sword in the garden and swiped off an ear of a nearby soldier.  I’ve always pictured him as this big, burly guy with a long beard pouring over a massive chest. The kind of guy you would want to stand next to when things got dicey.  Yet, there is Jesus telling him to not be afraid after reeling in a large number of fish with their nets.

Perhaps Simon caught a glimpse of himself and he didn’t like what he saw.  Though strong on the outside, he knew the real truth on the inside.  Simon Peter was a weak man.  A sinful man.  For people like Simon Peter who try so hard to convince others of his talents, his strengths or his intelligence, to admit a chink in the armor would be unfathomable, risky, even scary.  No wonder Simon Peter was afraid.  No wonder he told Jesus to go away from him.  He not only realized his weakness, but was acknowledging a superior strength.  A strength greater than his own.  A type of strength that fully recognizes that for a man who is used to self-sufficiency as a mode for survival, and has the battered hands and a weathered face to prove it, he is confronted with the spiritual and eternal fact that there is a living God who provides.  The full net of fish proved it.  And there he is, standing right in front of him.  That realization of who Peter is, and what he needed, brought him to his knees.

But, perhaps there is something more.

Simon Peter, the fisherman, was told that he was going to be a fisher of men.  That must have been a scary thought.  They type of thought that convinces a middle-aged man to make a radical change in his life; whether a new career, a new outlook, a new sports car or a new relationship.  A type of change that can be a great asset, or a disastrous consequence — especially on a family.  Simon Peter must have sensed it.  Here before him was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, God made flesh, and his purpose for Peter was to be his disciple.  He was on the verge of a great adventure that was going to be well beyond his self.  Confronted with that thought, Peter confessed that he was afraid.

And I can’t really blame him.

When confronted with my sinful self; when challenged to respond in way that forces me to exhibit fruits of the spirit in difficult circumstances, when provided opportunities to be a witness to the light and salt to the earth, my first response, too, is to be afraid.  I’m left with one of two options, to confess my sins or to disappear into the darkness of guilt and do nothing.  Or, respond poorly exhibiting a lack of trust, desire, and motivation.  But, Jesus knows this. He knows our condition for he experienced it himself.  He says, “Don’t be afraid” because he has already done everything.  Our sins are forgiven.  Our guilt is resolved.  The Spirit will not leave us, despite what we might feel or think.  We are God’s children.  The empty tomb proves it.  And Jesus just doesn’t lie.

With realization of sin or guilt, comes transformation of body and spirit.  A re-connection, a re-wiring, maybe even a re-booting — that type of action of just simply turning on the power switch to our converter after the battery to our laptop dies.  Jesus turns on the light and we simply become a light.

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