This week, in Luke 12:1-12, Jesus warns his disciples of the 'leaven of the Pharisees' - hypocrisy. Such hypocrisy is often driven by fear: fear of not being approved of by our peers; fear of rejection; fear of shame and accusation. Jesus puts that fear in a true perspective - in the end, only God's approval matters; he is the One with authority to cast into hell. Fear him, not the other things.
But Jesus then tells his disciples, 'Fear not!' This is not to confuse them, but to comfort them. God's power and authority are never exercised contrary to his merciful and gracious nature. And so, such authority is intended to evoke faith, not fear, because God knows and values his children and will not forget them in his mercy and love. Even a word spoken against the Son of Man will be forgiven! It is only the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, the sin of unbelief and rejection of the saving power and grace of God towards us, which will not be forgiven.
The Father longs for nothing more than to grant to his children the good gift of the Holy Spirit and in his good pleasure to give to them his kingdom. As his power and authority are only ever exercised in divine and holy love, which has been demonstrated fully in his Son, we need not fear rejection from man, nor condemnation from God. Instead we can live in faith, without fear.
Ray is Senior Pastor at Coromandel Baptist Church, South Australia. Before being appointed to this role in January 2012 and during his years of theological study at the Bible College of South Australia, Ray was Student Pastor at the church. Prior to this he was a high school...