Clarence’s Clarion Call – Fear?

     by Clarence Rempel, WDC Conference Minister

With the destruction of 9/11 still imbedded in our consciousness, the bombing at the Boston Marathon triggered latent feelings of fear. “Oh, no, here we go again!” Fear is permeating our social culture more that we realize. Four out of ten Americans are fearful of walking a mile from their home after dark. Fear has resulted in massive expenditures for home security systems in the past ten years – $28.2 billion in 2009. The budget for Homeland Security, a new cabinet position since 9/11, was $46.9 billion in 2012. Do all these expenditures make our world safer? Do they make us feel safer?

One of the most frequently repeated imperatives in Scripture is “Do not be afraid.” It appears some 80 times. The foundation for fearlessness is based in a deep security cemented in our relationship with God.

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

In the church we are also experiencing fear in the ethical and cultural turbulence around human sexuality. News in the past few weeks has included Supreme Court hearings, state votes regarding homosexual “marriage,” and a variety of prominent personal affirmations and pronouncements of homosexual relationships. The winds are strong, and our boat of Western District Conference is rocking and taking on water. For some it is the fear of being co-opted by the world’s values and being unfaithful to God and the instruction of Scripture. For others it is the fear of being irrelevant, unloving, inhospitable, and unfaithful in following Jesus. Other motivations are in the mix, but fear seems to have a powerful grip.

In the midst of the above news headlines, I came to Matthew 14 in my reading through the New Testament this year. The disciples experienced the fear of a vicious storm on the Sea of Galilee. They experienced the fear of a ghost-like appearance of Jesus walking on the water. In a moment of audacious faith, Peter stepped out of the boat, but then experienced the fear of wind and waves. He began to sink. I identify with Peter’s cry, “Lord, save me!”

“Lord, save us.” In all these storms I sense a deep need for the presence and intervention of Jesus. Is it possible to face into the storm when our faith is focused on Jesus? Might we even walk on water? What would that look like in our fellowship of churches?

I believe there is a way through the storms of life when Jesus is primary, the focus of our faith.

Jesus climbed into the boat and the wind died down. And the disciples worshiped him, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”