When was the last time you were called a coward right to your face?
Yeah, it has been a long time since somebody told me that, too. Then again, there is a whole lot of really true statements out there that do not get said on a regular basis for one reason or another.
After all, Jesus himself was completely silent before the guy who ultimately brought a death sentence upon him. Come to think of it, for all the world-changing Jesus has done over the past twenty centuries and counting, he spoke to about as many people as show up to an Oakland A’s game in Kansas City in the middle of August.
Can you imagine somebody making headlines for having four or five thousand people in his audience? I mean, seriously, the Grammys had 26.7 million viewers on Sunday night. Jesus had a grand total of ten or twelve thousand in three years. The truth rarely makes a noise loud enough for us to hear, but I digress.
Maybe it is time to be bold enough to admit that we are all really cowards.
We are afraid of our own shadows, for all of our bold talk. We are afraid that others will reject us if the knew who we really were at our worst. We are afraid that that chance for success in our career will never come, or worse, we may have already missed our little window of opportunity. The fear of failure haunts so many of us day and night that we feel we will never be free.
The other day my pastor, Tal, was preaching a sermon and he mentioned the old film The Wizard of Oz. As these thoughts bounced around in my mind, they went to the Cowardly Lion. Now, here is a character whose job is to be fearless but is comically terrified of the smallest falling leaf from a tree. His own tail throws him constantly into hysterics.
Have you ever empathized with the Cowardly Lion? The little roar you have cannot even convince yourself of your fearlessness. The ring of a doorbell, the sound of the alarm and the buzz of your cell phone all seem to conspire against us like the goofy lion’s own tail. And just like he covered for his fear by striking fear in the hearts of others, we cover for our own fears with a slough of principles, pornograpy, social standing, sarcastic statements, or whatever we have made our drug of choice.
At the end of the day we fear our own shadow and flee to our medicine in hopes of numbing our pain. This has proven just as futile as the Cowardly Lion’s roar though, right?
It is here that the gospel of Jesus must meet us time and time again. Read carefully the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and tell me this does not change the game,
That is the first commandment, the entire gospel. “Fear God”- instead of the many things which you fear. Do not fear the coming day, do not fear other people, do not fear power and might…do not fear sin. All this will be the death of you. You are free from all this fear; it isn’t there for you. But fear God and God alone…everything else is a game- only God is in earnest, entirely in earnest.
I want to take the next couple of posts and talk about fear. How can the fear of God not only banish all other fears but bring peace, comfort and joy into our lives?
Are you with me?