It seems like everyday there’s something in the news or on social-media that Christians are supposed to be afraid of. “By 2017, every American will be forced to have a chip implant…” Oh no, it’s the Mark of the Beast! “The economy is on the verge of collapse.” Start burying your money. “The radical Muslims are going to take over America.” Annie, get your gun! The list goes on, you see it all the time. But I hear the Spirit reminding us of what he told the church in Smyrna so long ago, “Stop being afraid.”
In the midst of everything the church in Smyrna was facing and would later endure, Jesus tells them (commands them) to stop being afraid. They would face prison, they would face death, but he tells them to be faithful- not fearful. Jesus assures the church in Smyrna that their faithfulness would earn them a crown of eternal value.
Although we don’t face trials that could even remotely be compared to what the church in Smyrna faced, it seems like so many Christians in America today are afraid. We look at the direction our country is heading, we see conspiracies under every bush (or Obama), and many are afraid. However, in contrast to the words of Jesus to the church in Smyrna by which he exhorted them to respond to fear with faithfulness, the response to our fear is to buy guns, get lawyers, and stand up for our rights. I wonder just what it is we’re afraid of.
Have we fallen so in love with the American dream that we have forgotten who we are? I know we don’t like to hear it, but sometimes being a good American and being a genuine Christian are not the same thing. We run from trials and suffering, after all, God doesn’t want his children to suffer does he? But is the bottom line simply that we’re afraid someone is going to come along and take all of our stuff? Remember the words of the Lord, “Wherever your treasure is, that’s where your heart’s going to be. Your life is hidden in Christ. Jesus is your treasure and reward. Could it be that we have more “invested” in the the world than we do in him? Have we become so attached to our way of life that the thought of losing it fills us with fear? Jesus says to us, “Stop being afraid! You are mine and I am yours. Be faithful.”
The trials and suffering that may be heading our way will not take the Lord by surprise. He may not spare us having to go through tribulation like the church in Smyrna endured, like many of our brothers and sisters around the world are enduring RIGHT NOW! But he assures us that he is in control and that we can be faithful- even to our death. I believe we American Christians need to get a new outlook on suffering, an outlook that has nothing to do with being American, but everything to do with following Jesus. Brothers and sisters, let us not be fearful, but faithful.