Fear of Death

This morning I read today's devotion from InTouch.org on the recommendation of a friend. It references Heb 2:14-18. The theme of it surrounds Christmas and keeping our focus on Christ and His great gift of salvation to us. And it is sooo important to keep that in mind over the next month. I read a lot of posts yesterday and the day before about folks going shopping for all the Black Friday sales. I don't go because I hate crowds like that and it brings out the crazies who really do care more about the loot and the pursuit than they do about the birth of the Savior of the world. Their Savior. And they're missing Him. I don't deal well with people pushing and shoving and cursing, etc over "stuff". And I don't think my true Christian friends are going out shopping so they can replace Christ with their gadgets. Some people like the crowds. Others just want to get the most for their money...the sales really are good. I really don't think they are losing their grip on the meaning of Christmas.
The devotion also reminded us all to keep that gift in mind...and to open it if we never have. But what I liked best was Heb 2:15 "and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." I like this part on a couple of levels. First and most obvious, is before we were saved, we had this deep fear of death. What would happen after I die? Is there a Hell, and do I have to go? How bad is it? Some tell themselves there's nothing. I don't get that. I don't understand how you could convince yourself of that. I've never met a real anarchist. Someone who doesn't think anyone should rule over anyone else. Seems to me that ultimately someone ends up making the rules...God. If God's not real, why do we have any sense of right and wrong? Why be offended by anything? Survival of the fittest, right? You can't be mad at me for beating you down...it's just what we do.
No, we all have a built in sense of right and wrong. Good and evil, if you will. That comes from somewhere. Eccl. 3:11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hears and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." (Amplified) That's where it comes from. God has planted in us a sense that there's more, but we don't fully understand it. That's why you hear people after they are saved tell you that they are complete. The hole is whole again. What was dead is now alive. What was lost, was wandering, is found, has purpose.

The second level I like this passage on is something I've been hearing at church for the last month or so. The verse says that we are freed from the slavery caused by fear of death. I think it's just as reasonable to interpret that as freedom from a works-based salvation. There are whole religions built on this concept. Or do you say that religion is that...works-based salvation? I mean, you go through your whole life keeping a scorecard of rights and wrongs and hope you come out with more rights so you can make your argument to God. A simple step back should tell you how stupid that is. It's all based on what you think is right or wrong. If you read the Bible and compare yourself to Jesus, as you should if you think working will get you into Heaven...He's the standard, you would give up right away. So, you don't. You compare yourself to the "real scumbag down the road" or in the news. No way you're that bad. So now you're good? Hmmm.
My mother is a good example of the damage that thinking does. Her guilt complex is unmatched by anyone else I know. That's religion. "I've never done anything right. I'm a bad person. God can't forgive all the bad I've done. Even if He figures out how, I can't." There's a fair amount of fishing going on in those thoughts too. "Please, someone tell me I'm not bad." We all do that. We want affirmation. But we look for it in people. I suspect it's because they are near, physically. We can see them. And if we aren't walking in the Spirit, we lose sight of the fact that Jesus is always with us, always near. And He sees us as infinitely valuable. Valuable enough to leave His throne in Heaven and come to Earth and live 33 years as a man only to die a horrible death, rejected by those He came to save. And this was the plan from the beginning of time. You're valuable...just make sure you're asking the right person.
You and I can be free from the slavery of trying to be good. Free from saying, "Tomorrow I wake up and get going on my Christianity. I'm gonna pray more, read more and be a better Christian." Praying and reading God's Word are critical things for staying in God's will for you and understanding who Jesus is. But they aren't items you check off on your daily quest to be a better Christian. As Pastor Nick was saying all through his study of Galatians, it's never Jesus and... There's nothing to be added. It's just Jesus. Want freedom? Jesus. Examine His life. He was free to bless whom He would. Free to choose death over His life. Jesus was free because He was in communion with the Father and knew what the Father wanted. Not hindered by what others thought of Him. Not trying to work on being sinless. Not reminding Himself to say the right thing or perform the right ritual at the right moment.
Realize that through Jesus, you are free. You don't have to fulfill the law. Jesus did that for you. Be free from the fear of death.

Thanks for visiting.

Let me know what you think.

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