We live in a world that is filled with fear. Turn on the nightly news and you will have no shortage of things to be afraid of. Fear sells, I suppose. In fact, in 2017, movies in the horror genre made more than $1 billion at the U.S. box office alone. So, yeah, fear sells.
At the same time, in the “church world”, it seems that we are on a “no fear” kick. There are countless songs that explore the idea of being fearless, or having no fear. Is that right? As Christians, should our goal be to live in complete lack of fear?
In Acts, 8 and at the beginning of Acts 9, a man named Saul of Tarsus caused the early church to live in a lot of fear. He was constantly breathing out threats against the church and had the authority to drag Christians out of their own homes and throw them in prison for their faith.
In Acts 9, we read about Saul’s miraculous conversion. He then becomes one of Christianity’s biggest advocates! Is the fear gone, at that point? Well, not exactly.
… the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (Acts 9:31, ESV)
They no longer had the fear of Saul coming into their home and drafting them off to prison, but they still had fear. They actually had good, healthy, righteous fear.
Fear of the Lord.
Our goal is not actually to be fearless, or to have no fear. Our goal is to walk in the fear of the Lord… but also in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Peter, who was Jewish, encountered a severe shaking in his understanding of God’s heart in Acts 10. This is a huge chapter! This is the chapter in which a transformation takes place in the minds of the apostles. They begin to grasp God’s heart not just for the Jewish nation, but for the Gentiles, as well.
While Peter is in Joppa, he receives a bizarre vision from the Lord three times. In the vision, Peter sees four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and birds of the sky -all of which were traditionally “unclean” for Jews to eat. But in the vision, he is told to kill and eat these “unclean” creatures.
While Peter is trying to understand the vision, he is interrupted by men who had been sent by Cornelius, an upright and God-fearing centurion -an “unclean” Gentile!
Cornelius had been praying, when suddenly “a man in dazzling clothing” stood before him and said, “Send someone to Joppa and invite Peter here.”
When Peter hears all of this, and considers his vision from earlier, he comes to an amazing conclusion:
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:34-35, ESV)
Two very important things happened that day!
1. It became clear that the gospel was for ALL people, and
2. Christians we’re FINALLY able to eat bacon!
Acts 11 begins with Peter defending his new position in Jerusalem.
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:15-18, ESV)
Amen! Let’s eat bacon!