FEAR OR FAITH?
Repeatedly, and more than any other phrase in the New Testament, the exhortation ‘’Be not afraid,’’ or ‘’Fear not’’ is driven home on the lips of Jesus or those who are messengers of that Good news which heralds change and the prospect of adventure into unknown territory.
Jesus comes to unlock the self-imposed barricades of fear, inviting us into that freedom which only comes with trust – a faith and trust, even at those very times when we do not understand the agenda or the course of events. It is in those last days of which Jesus speaks, and which we read in this season of Advent, when so much that is happening will be perplexing, indeed incomprehensible, disturbing and threatening to overturn our present world view. All our points of navigation – the sun, the moon and the stars, indeed those certainties on which we have relied so very heavily to the point of idolatry – no longer serve to give us direction or purpose. But as Jesus goes on to say, ‘’When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.’’ (Luke 21:28) So, flee the temptation to pull down the shutters and pull up the drawbridges of that citadel mentality which cannot be open to what is new and changing, compulsively nailing down, everything which threatens to break free and fly.
The man with the bag of nails
‘’And then came man, with his hammer and his bag of nails.
And he nailed the shining sun to the heavens, in case it should leave him cold.
And he nailed the bright moon fast to the silent sky, for fear of being left in the darkness.
And he nailed the clouds to the shifting wind, so they would not gather above him.
And he nailed down the salt sea and each fish fast within it.
And he nailed the bright birds to the empty air, and every creature that flew, or walked, or crawled, or slithered, he nailed hard in its allotted place.
And then came a carpenter’s son. And man, afraid, took him and nailed him tight to a tree, for this man’s tongue could loosen nails.’’ (John Ballard)