Thursday, November 14, 2002

Edifier du Jour-Acts 21:10-14(NASB)
10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" 12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." 14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "The will of the Lord be done!"
This is one of those verses that I as a fat and happy American find troubling; I'm not sure I would have Paul's conviction if faced with such danger. Would I be ready to jailed, be ready to die, for Jesus. The theologically correct answer is "yes, I would", but I'm not sure my gut would honestly give the same answer. However, we do have an honest fear of death and pain that God has build into us. It's the job of the Holy Spirit to get us past those fears when called upon. I'm reminded of Dr Shmidt's testimony in department chapel last week; he was a paratrooper with a fear of heights (great combination) before getting into academe and was telling of the first time he had to be the first person to parachute out of the plane, where the lead man has to hang at the edge of the door, with his toes hanging out into the air, waiting for the go signal. While in that position, the sergeant in charge asked if he was afraid-yes he was, he admitted. The sergeant then told him that being afraid was good; if you stop being afraid, it's time to stop jumping, for you have become crazy1. Being fearful is OK, as long as you can recognize the fears and, with the Holy Spirit's help, stare them down. Even Jesus had to stare down His own fears at Gethsemane; He knew exactly what he was up against and did it anyways. I remember a line from George of the Jungle that was going around my computer store, especially when a Packard Bell came in for repairs; "George must do this-this gonna hurt!" Bravery is knowing it’s gonna hurt and manage to do it anyway; the Holy Spirit's there to help supply extra doses when needed. If called upon to face persecution for following Christ, I think the Holy Spirit would equip me to do so, to be able to suck it up and do the right things. The brave person isn't less fearful than the "coward," he just manages to overcome the fears for a bit longer. Policemen and firefighters do this as well, face dangerous situations and perform their tasks despite the risks. Soldiers manage to do the same in combat, to contain their fears long enough to do the job at hand. In this spiritual warfare, we can, with and only with the Holy Spirit's help, face those fears and help expand God's kingdom. 1-That's not far from the original Catch-22; if you tell the shrink you're afraid of flying combat missions, he'll tell you that's normal, fly 'em anyways. If you're not afraid of flying combat missions, you're crazy and should be removed, but the shrink will only find out if you tell him, which, since you're not afraid, isn't likely.

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