Last Friday night, a team of Suwannee High School teachers defeated two other teams en route to be crowned champions of the “Bro-Ball” Volleyball Tournament. It was a great victory for this group of middle age (and beyond) educators, especially because we defeated our younger and definitely more athletic students.
It was also a costly victory for some of us. The “veteran” team went home joyous but in great pain. In my case, I finished the game hurt and I limped and hobbled around the house the rest of the weekend. If you ask me, I rather win and experience some pain and discomfort, than to be a relaxed and comfortable loser.
We have been called to walk in the Narrow Way (Matthew 7:13-14) that is filled with shadows and dangers (Psalm 23:4). We live in a dark world that only offers persecutions and tribulations for Christians (John 16:33), but we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
The Christian life is very costly. It was costly to the Father for “He…did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:31). It was also extremely costly to the Son, who gave his life (John 6:51) on the cross for his people.
Jesus paid it all in order for us to have a wonderful and comfortable life, free of stress, pain, suffering, poverty, sickness or death…in heaven. One day, all of these things will disappear forever as we enter through the gates of glory, but for now we must walk with our Lord, enduring all the trials and tribulations, knowing that heaven is waiting for us.
There have been many costly or Pyrrhic victories in this world, and not only in sporting events, but in deadly wars. The United States alone, has lost almost three million people in all their wars; the deadliest being the Civil War and World War 2. The Civil War was fought to preserve the Union and it accomplished its goal, but it was very costly: Over a million Americans died fighting against each other.
If the Union of a country and the peace of the world are important enough to go to war, how much more should we Christians be willing to lay down our lives for the cause of Christ? Nothing is more costly in this world than being a disciple of Christ.
Esther put her life on the line to save her people (Esther 4:16)
King David did not offer free or cheap sacrifices (2 Samuel 24:24)
The apostles left everything behind to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27)
You and I have been called to follow Christ, but only after we deny ourselves and take up his cross (Luke 9:23). The Christian calling is very costly because it demands complete obedience and for us to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). The price is high, but our eternal prize will be glorious.
Fear is a powerful agent of chaos and destruction. Our world is saturated by fear and many have fallen prisoner in its satanic claws. There are innumerable types of fears or phobias, as the scientists call it. People are afraid of failure; afraid of animals; afraid of terrorists; afraid of the future; afraid of sickness and death; afraid of dentists and in the case of teachers, afraid of students.
Our schools have become the latest target of attacks. Teachers must not only struggle to teach unruly and rebellious children, but now there is the ever-increasing possibility of gunmen coming into our campuses to create havoc and destroy precious lives.
I cannot begin to tell you how disgusted and disappointed I am with the whole situation. My main goal now as a teacher is not to instruct my students or teach them manners, but to show them how to create barricades or how to run for their lives in the event of an attack.
This is no way to live! I refuse to live in fear! 2 Timothy 1:7 informs us that,
“…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Furthermore, God has commanded us to not be afraid many times in the Bible. Joshua 1:9, for example, reads:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Yes, fear is powerful, but our God is All-Powerful. Millions live in fear today because they do not fear (revere, honor, respect, love and obey) the Lord. The converse is also true: If you fear God, then there is nothing to fear---not even death.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
It is time for us to be cautious and prepared, but there is never any acceptable time or season for us to be afraid. When I say “afraid” I am not referring to normal fears that lead us to do that which is right (e.g. rescuing someone that is drowning; grooming ourselves before leaving home so not to scare others; refraining from jumping from tall buildings, etc.). There is another fear; a fear that paralyzes and defeats. This fear is nothing but hopelessness and lack of faith.
Fear can only be overcome by faith, but not faith in our schools, social institutions or political leaders. Faith in Jesus is the only power that destroys fear and overcomes the world (1 John 5:4, 5).
There is fear and faith. What choose ye?