Fear is a prevalent theme in Christmas story and in our lives.
When the angels tell Mary and Joseph that they’re about to become the parents of God, the angels immediately seek to nullify their fear.
"Fear poisons us a little each day if we don’t face it head-on and nullify its power.” (Craig Groeschel)
Far from minimizing the risks, the angel tells Joseph to face into the fear of the ridicule and stigma marrying Mary will entail.
When we don’t face into the fear, fear narrows the circle of our lives. When all we are concerned with is safety, we will never enter the adventure of the story God is weaving. Mary may not have had much of a choice, but Joseph certainly did.
Life with God isn’t safe, but we can face the danger when we remember that God is for us. The story of Christmas is the story of redemption. Our redemption. The angel’s, “he will save his people from their sins,” is echoed by Paul when he says, “If God is for us, who can be against us.”
But maybe the most astounding message of the angels—the words that most give us courage and nullify the fears that are poisoning our lives—are, “‘They shall call his name Immanuel.” Matthew adds, “Which means, God with us.”
God is with us.
Page through the story of God and you’ll hear the call to live courageously by remembering that our God is with us.
“‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’” (Joshua 1:9)
“Then David said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you.’” (1 Chronicles 28:20)
“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
In his book, Just Courage, Gary Haugen writes:
After we have poured into our children all the good food and shelter and clothing, after we have provided them with great education, discipline, structure and love, after we have worked so hard to provide every good thing, they turn to us and ask, "Why have you given all of this to me."
And the honest answer from me is, "So you'll be safe."
And my kid looks up at me and says, "Really? That's it? You want me to be safe? Your grand ambition for my life is that nothing bad happens?"
And I think something inside them dies. They either go away to perish in safety, or they go away looking for adventure in the wrong places. Jesus, on the other hand, affirms their sense of adventure and their yearning for larger glory.
But imagine with me what it would be like if we and our children boldly entered the story of God, filled with danger and adventure, because we know that God is for us and God is with us, so who can be against us?
That would be living for the larger glory!
Watch the sermon on Vimeo here.