Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fear Not!


But now thus says the LORD, 
he who created you, O Jacob, 
he who formed you, O Israel: 
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; 
I have called you by name, you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; 
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you. 
For I am the LORD your God, 
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 
I give Egypt as your ransom, 
Cush and Seba in exchange for you. 
Because you are precious in my eyes, 
and honored, and I love you, 
I give men in return for you, 
peoples in exchange for your life. 
Fear not, for I am with you; 
I will bring your offspring from the east, 
and from the west I will gather you. 
I will say to the north, Give up, 
and to the south, Do not withhold; 
bring my sons from afar 
and my daughters from the end of the earth, 
everyone who is called by my name, 
whom I created for my glory, 
whom I formed and made." 
Isaiah 43:1-7

In the Bible, the command "fear not" appears 65 times and another 200 times in different variations, such as "do not fear."  Of everything that commands us in the Bible, "fear not" might be the command that shows up most often.  

This communicates two very important things.  First, fear is probably the most common human condition.  Second, it is the reaction to life least warranted by followers of Christ.

What do we fear?  It might be, if you are in the closet, that we fear that someone will find out we are gay?  We might fear how people will react to finding out we are gay.  There may be other fears in our lives.  We might fear that a financial setback will threaten our future.  Or, maybe we fear the health of ourselves or loved ones.  We might have anxiety over our future and what it may hold.  There are many things in life we might fear, if we don't trust in God.

Whatever our fear may be, we have an answer, and it's right above in the scripture for today.  The question we must ask ourselves is how much do we want to overcome our fears? Following Christ gives us a way.

Israel's long history of oppression, captivity, and discrimination would seem to warrant a natural inclination to be fearful.  Even with all of the wonderful, amazing miracles and moments of Israel's deliverance from God, the prophet now delivers (verses 1, 5a, 6b, 7) one of the most beautiful and hopeful messages recorded.  Yet it is not just for the nation of Israel; as children of God, we feel it resonates in our own hearts too.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine....Fear not, for I am with you...bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." 

Pay close attention to verse 4: "...you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you..."

How is it possible when we recognize just how valued and loved we are, and when we see the hand of God in our life's journey, we continue to struggle with fear?  It may be because as LGBT Christians we are often told by congregations that we are not wanted and that God does not love us.  However, go back and read the scripture again. Is there any mention of who God loves and who he doesn't love?  No, and that is because God loves all of us and we are all worthy of His love.

The dangers, afflictions, and challenges we face will not destroy us.  Instead, God tells us "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." (Isaiah 43:2). This what God tells us, and God cannot lie.

So, fear not,because God has redeemed us, and because we are God's children.

4 comments:

rickbettencourt said...

It's a shame that those so-called Christians can be so hurtful. Spouting hate, as you stated, is just not Christian. My husband and I, like many LGBT, are not churchgoers because of those discriminatory views.

JoeBlow said...

Too many LGBT feel that way, which is why I write these posts. They are Bible study for me, but I also want the message of God's love to be clearer in the minds of the LGBT community who have rejected Christianity because of hatemongers.

brotherdoc said...

Amen!

Coop said...

Another great scripture passage, Joe. I am a fan of Isaiah.
As a Benedictine-educated Catholic I know better than to be literal when it comes to the bible. But I haven't found anything in sodom & gomorrah that condemns homosexual love. S&G is all about rape, robbery and assault.