Recently I was asked to preach at local parish. The scripture readings were a hodgepodge and the pastor even apologized that I had to preach on them. Yet as I read through the passages a very familiar phrase jumped out at me, "be not afraid." Now I've heard this phrase constantly used as an assurance and a reason to be at peace, but I never thought of it as a command. But something in the readings made me think of it differently.
The command "be not afraid" or "do not fear" is found almost twice as many times as the command to love in the Bible. Whether you believe or not, this is an interesting commentary on life and demands to be looked at. What are we afraid of and how does it inhibit us?
Think about it. I know that for me, as an introvert, it is difficult for me to approach new people. Why? I know that there is a fear of rejection. The same applies when I withhold honest feedback in a relationship. I'm afraid I might hurt the other person. That is honorable, but then they miss important feedback. So, what are you afraid of in life? How do those fears inhibit you? Remember, the only fears that are natural to us are fear of loud noises and fear of falling. The rest we've learned.
But what would life be like if we had no fear, obviously within reason. We would reach out to others and cross barriers. We wouldn't see color, sex, creed, or any other prejudice. We would be willing to unleash our greatest talents because we could put aside the inhibitions of fear. It could be an amazing life!
Fasting is a concept embraced by many different facets of society. It involves setting something aside or denying oneself for a period of time. What if we fasted from fear? What would life be like if we embraced our full self without fear of what others might say, fear of success, or fear of failure? It might just be the jump start many of us look for. Be not afraid. That is a fast worth embracing.