“19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Here in John 20 we see one of the greatest results of the resurrection, that as followers of Jesus Christ we no longer have to live in fear. All of us have experienced fear at one time or another, you see fear is one of the oldest and strongest emotions known to mankind. Fear was the first emotion to emerge after Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. When we forsake God and seek sin fear always follows. How did Adam and Eve handle their fear, they hid, and thousands of years later how do we find the disciples dealing with fear, hiding and holding up. It’s here that we discover that there are two ways of dealing with fear, man’s way and the Messiah’s way. Unfortunately many of us are turning and trusting in man-made ways instead of the Master. As a result we are relying on coping mechanisms instead of Christ. Like the disciples we end up relying on locks instead of the Lord. But what do locks do in our lives, they limit us. Your coping mechanism becomes your cage; instead of providing protection it puts you in prison. You have a choice, you can chose Christ or a coping mechanism, but let me ask you this, what do you really want, a crutch or a cure? So how does Jesus deal with disciples of fear? He provides us with His presence. The first truth we need to turn to if we want to be free from our fears is to:
- Expect His Presence
Just like the disciples many of us are living locked up lives because our focus is on the problems and not on His presence. Now I am not minimizing their problems, they had real problems not just perceived ones. The religious rulers had crucified Christ and their fear was that they would come and kill them next. I want you to notice a contrast here between religion and relationship. Religion brings fear, relationship brings freedom. Religion brings legalism, relationship brings life. Many of us are living in the limits because we are relying on religion instead of the Redeemer. It’s the rule based living instead of relationship based living. Now I read my bible every day but it’s based on love not law. Many of us are living in the mandates and the have to instead of we get to. Religion always result in locked up lives, it kills relationship instead of kindling it. Parents what are you communicating to your kids, rule based living or relationship based living? Because what you communicate you will cultivate, are you cultivating a life of fear or one of faith? We need to be careful that we don’t cripple our kids and cause them to live locked up, limited lives. Now for those of you who have missed the mission and messed up when it comes to raising your kids don’t despair. You see it’s into the limits and the locks that the Lord comes. Notice that man-made locks don’t limit the Lord. I also want you to see that scripture records not just a locked door but doors plural. There are lots of locks, there are multiple man-made mechanisms but regardless of how locked up we are Jesus presence has the power to fill and free your life. Your problems don’t limit His presence, your perception doesn’t limit His presence, your pain doesn’t limit His presence. Even in the limits and the locks we can experience God’s presence. We need to stop living in the anxiety and start living in the expectation and anticipation of His presence. When we wake do we begin the day in His presence or in the problems? Instead of living in the pleasure of His presence we are living in the panic of the problems. We need to stop fixing our eyes on the anxiety and start focusing on the Author. Many of us start our day in dread because we are not living in the eager expectation of God showing up and when He does we miss Him. Worry causes us to waste our energy on religion instead of being engaged in a relationship. They were living in the worrying of the religious leaders instead of the wonder of what God was doing. Are you going to look to the Lord or live a locked up life? It’s His presence that provides us with His peace. If we want to live lives free from fear we need to expect His presence. What about you are you leaning on the Lord, expect His Presence, or are you leaning on the locks and living in the limits?