I have heard a lot of theories about overcoming fear. Courage, they say, is not the absence of fear, but rather being afraid and acting anyway. One of my greatest fears has always been heights. From my high school years on, I worked as a Window Washer, constantly climbing up and down ladders. I had to learn to face my fear and do my job anyways. Eventually, I became comfortable on a ladder, and I eventually faced my fear full-on when I went skydiving. This was that time in my life that mothers fear most: the time when young people begin to feel invincible and begin to try irrational but exciting new things. It is this invincibility complex that makes some people appear fearless, even as they do things that bring them within a hairs breadth of death. In facing their fears, they find an intoxicating obsession with living to the fullest, regardless of the danger. To them, death is inevitable, but truly living is a choice.

            In Acts 23, Paul was faced with the choice to continue living for Jesus to the fullest or let fear hold him back, and God emboldened him with a similar thought. In vv:10-11, Paul was almost killed by a violent crowd and God commanded him to have courage. The call for courage was not based on a promise of invincibility, or a reckless disregard for death. It was based on God’s purpose for Paul’s life. He was meant to preach in Rome, and until he did that, God would get him through. There was no promise of when it would happen, and God did not guarantee that Paul would not be killed in Rome. The message was simple: “I have a plan for you, and no one else can mess that up. You just need to keep walking in it.” For Paul, as for each of us, death was an inevitability. The question was how he would choose to live for Christ in the meantime. God encouraged him to live to the fullest, without letting fear hold him back.

            Today, we are inundated with news and information designed to make us afraid. Many will choose to live in that fear and do all they can to stay safe and secure, cocooned from the world and the many dangers of daily living. As our culture becomes increasingly anti-Christ, many believers will hide away their faith, only practicing it in the shelter of their home and their local sanctuary. My prayer is that we will all take to heart the reality of being Christ-followers. Like our Savior, let us embrace daily dying to self. Like the many witnesses who have gone before us, let us live this Christian life to the fullest, recognizing that death comes to all but not all truly live. This is the enemy of fear: choosing each day to live to the fullest and follow God with everything we have. Once we have tasted that life, fear begins to fade.

by Ben Urban, Pastor of Student Ministries

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