Monday, February 25, 2013

Becoming fearless (Psalm 27:1) in a scary world with a spiritual insight from the life of John Chrysostom.

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 27:1 (TM)
Light, space, zest - that's God! So, with him on my side I'm fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.

Seeking to know God better, John Chrysostom became a hermit in the mountains near Antioch in A.D. 373. Although his time of isolation was cut short by illness, he learned that with God at his side, he could stand-alone against anyone or anything. That lesson served Chrysostom well. In A.D. 398 he was appointed patriarch of Constantinople, where his zeal for reform antagonized the Empress Eudoxia, who had him exiled. Allowed to return after a short time, Chrysostom again infuriated Eudoxia, who sent him away again. How did Chrysostom respond to such persecution? With these words: "What can I fear? Will it be death? But you know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death. Will it be exile? But the earth and all its fullness are the Lord's. Poverty I do not fear; riches I do not sigh for; and from death I do not shrink."

It is a hard lesson that we learn slowly. What is it that we fear? I mean – shake in our boots, breakout in a cold sweat, mouth goes dry, heart rate increases, loss of speech, unable to move kind of fear. What is it that we really really fear?

Death? Rejection? Ridicule? Being the laughing stock? Exposed as a fraud? Failure? Financial ruin? Loneliness? Weight gain? Divorce? Not being liked? Is your fear listed? What would you add to this list? The “fear factor” in our life is the bully of our spirit and soul.

Our Lenten journey should bring us closer to God … at least that is the hope and purpose. In becoming closer to God shouldn’t we face ourselves … even if it means facing the painful reality of what paralyses our soul. To admit what we fear most in this life is a daunting task at best. Lay us bear to the facts. Opening us up to a reality that we have spent a lifetime burying deep within our psyche.

Putting a name on our fear diminishes its power over us. Growing up the neighborhood bully was Dick Locke. He would hunt us down and beat us up for no apparent reason other than he was angry at someone or something and we simply were available to be beaten up as a way of releasing his anger. Since those days I’ve called all of my fears “Dicks” and peace comes to my soul. Christ defeated my arch enemy once why not again?

Aren’t we shaped as much by our fears as we are by our hopes and dreams? And yet, John Chrysostom came to the spiritual reality that was revealed by the Psalmist – that when we come along side of God we have no one and nothing to fear. We become fearless of whatever there is out there that would desire to destroy us. Those things that go bump-in-the-night become nothing more than useless noise.

I’m wondering what we would really accomplish if we started to live each day with a fearless heart?  

Help us to become what we proclaim we are – fearless Christ-followers in a world filled with things that go bump-in-the-night. 

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