Here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we have reached the second in a series of sermons taking a look at the biblical book of Galatians. Last weeks sermon “Faith and Life” can be found here. In this weeks passage (Galatians3:23-29) Paul talks about not living from a place of fear but from a place of faith.
Fear grabs our attention. It gets us ready to fight or flee. Whether we mask our fear with bravado or slink away to seek refuge, it can have a powerful effect on our thinking, our decisions and our actions. A healthy fear can keep us from harm. But fear can also keep us from doing what we need to do. Sometimes it provokes us into wrong or dangerous responses.
Increasing troubles in the world and our neighborhoods can make us feel like we are living in a fear zone. People play on our fears for their own benefit. There are things that should cause us concern. Terrorism, mass shootings, violent crime, disease, natural disasters, all of these are in the news and often in our entertainment and our nightmares.
Some dangers, like fear of sharks, flying and mass shootings, we tend to overplay. Other much more common killers, such as auto accidents and germs, we tend to downplay. Many of the things we fear never happen to us, and even when they do, all our anxieties and worries generally have done nothing to protect us.
Fear can reach into our spiritual life. In Galatia teachers had come into the church who were using fear to gain control over others. Paul had come to them preaching a gospel that was all about grace. He had taught them that every person was welcome in the Kingdom of God, that old barriers of prejudice that separated people had been torn down, because of the life, ministry and death of Jesus Christ.
To Galatia had come teachers who were questioning Paul's teaching and the congregations standing with God. They were insisting that they needed to submit to various practices and rules that were present in Judaism. This included everything from circumcision to dietary laws. Paul contradicts this false teaching by reminding them that, while the law had worked as a “disciplinarian” to show them their faults, faith in Jesus Christ should now be the determining factor in their lives.
He writes in Galatians 3:25-26 “But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to the discipline of the law, for in Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith.” Their faith factor was far more important than the fear factor.
As we face the things that cause us anxiety in our lives, we do well to remind ourselves that we live every day in the presence of God and are constantly subjects of God's grace. God desires what is best for us and has opened the doorway, through Jesus Christ, for us to know God's love and the guidance and comfort of God's Holy Spirit.
It is as we put our faith in what God has done... is doing... and will do... that the faith factor kicks in and the fear factor starts to diminish. We are not promised a trouble free existence, but we are promised that whatever we face, God will walk with us every step of the way, as we place our trust in God's amazing grace.
For some music, a song about having faith not fear... Greg Sykes sings “ All I Need to Know.”
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.