Do Not Be Afraid – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150When we listen to these words from Matthew’s gospel, we are listening in on Jesus’ counsel to his twelve disciples as he prepares to send them out to proclaim the kingdom news.  And we are listening in as Matthew uses these words of Jesus’ to reassure his readers in their witness for the gospel.  And we are, in fact, listening too to the voice of God, speaking to us today in the Word of God, offering us comfort and inspiration to help us face the difficulties of being a Christian in today’s world.

What is it that Jesus is saying to the twelve, and that Matthew is saying to his community, and that God is saying to us today?  It is this: Do… not… be… afraid.

The message is repeated three times in this short text:

(1) Do not be afraid… because “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known” (v.26).  Eventually, says Jesus, everything will be out in the open; everyone will know how things really are.  The secret motives and intentions of human hearts will be revealed.  That which is true and right will stand, and that which is false and evil will fall away.  Love and Truth will triumph in the end, so don’t be afraid, even when things seem to turn against you.

(2) Do not be afraid… because the evil that human beings inflict on you, the words by which they try to hurt you, even their persecution of you, are temporary, not eternal.  Don’t be intimidated by their threats; don’t be silenced by their bullying; don’t be troubled when they impugn your motives or smear your reputation or threaten you or hurt you.  In the balance of things, it means nothing.  Save your fear for God, who holds your life in his hands.

(3) Do not be afraid… because God is holding you in love.  God loves you more than anything.  You are of infinitely more value to God than even the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, which God so carefully looks after and tends.  Nothing will ever be able to separate you from that love.  So don’t be afraid.

These words of Jesus, I believe, have implications far beyond their immediate context.  They are spoken to the twelve as they prepare to go out to preach the good news Jesus has shared with them.  They are spoken, too, to the earliest followers of Jesus by the evangelist Matthew.  And they are spoken to us, not only when we meet resistance from others because we identify ourselves as followers of Jesus, but whenever we find ourselves experiencing difficulty, danger, or fear.

God’s word to us in every circumstance is this:

“I am your light and your salvation.  Do not be afraid.
I am the strength of your life.  Do not be afraid.
I am with you always.  Do not be afraid.”

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  1. BrendaGriffing on October 1, 2018 at 09:19

    At first I was taken aback by the mention of animals and flowers that God “so carefully tends.” Of course there are numerous counterexamples. Then, setting aside plants, I thought about animals. Prey animals routinely flee from danger; but a lion would run from a widespread fire as naturally as a gazelle would run from a lion. I don’t think Jesus was ruling out acts of self-preservation or, by extension, acts that preserve self and others.

    But many animals die violently for reasons they couldn’t have anticipated. They were not afraid. They live to the fullest at all times, exercising caution corresponding to their nature, but not fearing what’s unknowable to them. It would be ridiculous anthropomorphizing to think of a careless young animal having as its dying thought, “Oh, dumb me! I should have looked and sniffed around before I ran out like that.”

    Thank you, Br. David, for reminding us that humans, who are prone to worry, of Jesus’ simple instruction and the accompanying proof.

  2. Claudia Booth on October 1, 2018 at 09:12

    My family needed to hear this, today.
    Thank you for these wise words.

  3. Ruth West on July 6, 2017 at 17:25

    I loved your message. Psalm 27 is one of my favorites.
    I used to think that being alone at night would be a scary thing. However, with God as my protector, I am not afraid. I do some of my calmest and most peaceful thinking and praying late at night. The Lord truly is my strength and my salvation.

  4. Dee Dee on July 6, 2017 at 09:10

    These words have brought me great comfort this morning. Thank you Br. David.

  5. Marynelle Losin on July 6, 2017 at 08:19

    God bless you richly, Brother Vryhof, for this and for all your timely and timeless messages of hope. Thank you fro reminding us of God’s Holy Word.

  6. SusanMarie on July 6, 2017 at 07:33

    And fear is not from God. This is one of the most valuable things I’ve learned. So when I’m feeling afraid, I know that I have moved away from God. Once I acknowledge that, I am able to connect again with God in my soul — where God always resides — and the fear subsidies or disappears. God says these words so many times throughout the Bible. It’s clear God does not want us to be afraid!

    • Joanne Wilson on July 6, 2017 at 08:50

      Thank you for that…expressed in a way i’ve not heard before. Helpful !

    • Pamela Forbes on October 1, 2018 at 12:26

      Very helpful to me as well. Thank you, SusanMarie. And thank you to Brother David for the loving and tender homily.

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