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Sunday, November 19, 2017
Do Not Be Afraid
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents
and harmless, innocent as doves… You shall be hated by all for my name’s sake;
but to the one who endures to the end shall be saved…The disciple is not above
his master, nor the servant above his lord…Do not fear those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in
hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to
the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all
numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
 These are difficult and comforting
words! Jesus is speaking to the apostles as He sends them out! He says that the
world is dangerous, evil is random and they will suffer attacks. How do Jesus’
followers respond? How is faith lived when under attack?
Jesus’ answers are not easy! He says be wise; don’t give provocation deserving
of attack. Be harmless, be people of peace, good will, without vengeance or
conflict. The dove represents the Spirit’s presence and fruit of love, joy, peace…
Jesus challenges perspective. Don’t be surprised by evil or attack; I have and
will be attacked and ultimately nailed to a cross; even though I speak words of
life and hope, while doing good. He says we are not alone, but loved and cared for
by the Father. He values us beyond all and is omniscient about us in every way.
Enduring whatever in this life, Jesus says we are and will be blessed.
What do these words say in an era of church shootings? From 2006 to the
present, there have been on average 3 church shootings a year during a service.
There are approximately 378,000 places of Christian worship in America. The
chance of a shooting during a church gathering in any year is 1 in 126,000.
Assuming each congregation meets at least once a week, there are a minimum
of 19,656,000 church services every year in the U.S. That means our odds of
experiencing a church shooting during a service are at most 1 in 6,552,000.
One church shooting is too much! Your shepherds are listening; a committee
is exploring preventive and protective measures. We will continue to be wise
and harmless; a people of faith working in love. “Fear not, I am with you: be not
dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; I
will uphold you…” (Isaiah 41:10)
Randy Davis