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“Do not fear.” —Matthew 10:28
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus gives us at least four commandments: (1) Do not let them intimidate you; (2) do not fear those who deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul; (3) do not be afraid of anything; (4) fear Him Who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.
What does fear have to do with the kingdom of God? Fear is a powerful force. It can lead us to panic and flight or it can spur us to faith and action. The fear of God is the antidote to the fear of losing one’s life. I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Oh fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! Come, Oh sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34:4,9,11)
What is Godly fear then? It is reverence for the One who made us in love and who sustains us in mercy and kindness. The greatest injury or loss which we can experience is not physical but spiritual – the loss of one’s soul to the power of hell. A healthy fear of God leads to spiritual maturity, wisdom and right judgment and it frees us from the tyranny of sinful pride, cowardice – especially in the face of evil and spiritual deception. Do you trust in God’s grace and mercy and submit to his word?
When Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God he met opposition and hostility. He tells his disciples that they must expect the same treatment if they are to live and to proclaim the reign of God. There is both a warning and a privilege in his statement. Just as Jesus had to carry his cross, so the disciples must carry their cross and not try to evade it. To suffer for the faith is to share in the work of Christ. As one hymn states: Lift high the Cross of Christ! Tread where his feet have trod. The Holy Spirit gives us power and grace to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. Do you trust in God’s grace to carry your cross for Jesus’ sake?
Lord Jesus, it is our joy and privilege to be your disciple. Give us strength and courage to bear any hardship and suffering which may come our way in your service. May we witness to others the joy of the Gospel.
Fr Odinaka Nwadike