Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17
I read the email. Then I read it again. I read it one more time, edited the wording as I went. In my mind I ran through a number of scenarios…what would happen after I click send? Somehow, in my spirit I sensed that for me, a line had been drawn in the sand.
Then I heard the Spirit of the Lord whisper to me. “When are you going to stop fearing man?”
Let me pause here and share some things about myself. I live a (somewhat) brave life. If you asked people who only know me superficially, they would probably tell you that I am exceptionally brave…or exceptionally stupid. I get on planes and fly to unknown places, I lives in strangers’ homes, I eat whatever is put in front of me without asking too many questions
Some people would call me brave for speaking the truth, applauding the fact that I will call sin by its name and expose the works of the enemy. Others might call me loveless, possibly arrogant, even religious, as we do with those brave souls who march to a different tune, but they will not call me “coward”. I have been told that I am intimidating, because I so fearlessly confess my weakness, because I strive to live an altogether transparent life. I am brave enough to expose myself, hoping that someone’s life would be better for knowing of my own struggles and pain, that my openness would give them courage to expose their own broken places so that Jesus can minister to them.
And yet, Holy Spirit goes right to the heart of the matter, as He always does. I was, in some ways, still in fear of man. Not only that, but I was in denial also. I had convinced myself that my fear of man, my reluctance to make waves, to boldly stand for righteousness in certain situations is because I honour people. I have given myself permission to let some things slide because I have convinced myself that “love covers”. Don’t get me wrong, Love does cover a person’s dignity, yet Love exposes corruption in order to bring healing. In order to cleanse the temple, the Author of Love overturned tables and whipped the moneychangers. Jesus was more concerned with fearing God, than preserving His own reputation. Oh, that I might be like Him!
As I meditated upon these things the Lord reminded me of a scripture.
2 Corinthians 2: 14 – 16 reads like this:
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, He brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse. (Message)
This right here, is the reality of our predicament. Not everybody will applaud us, not everybody will understand us. To those of the same spirit, we will be fragrant and beautiful, to those with a different spirit, we will stink to high heaven. I know that this is the line that was drawn in the sand for me – am I ready to cross that line, give up on the notion that everyone will understand, love and appreciate me and live my life for an audience of One? Am I ready to really believe that the Lord will lead me in “a victory parade” everywhere I go?
We are, as the body of Christ, called to honour people, if for no other reason, because they were created in the image of God. We are to love our neighbours, be the servant of all, be the least if we want to be great and we are to respect the laws of the land – but our fear – that is reserved for God, and God alone.
2 Timothy 1:7 drives this truth home. “For God will never give you the spirit of cowardly fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love and sound judgment.” TPT
So here we are, confronted with the fact that at times (if you are anything like me), we moderate what we say, how we act and when we make a stand for righteousness because we want to avoid the reaction we expect to receive. What a predicament! We have been called to be salt and light and I have to confess, sometimes I don’t like the consequence that comes from being salt. What are we to do?
I will allow someone way smarter than me to answer that question. I’ll take you back to 2 Corinthians 2 and let the Apostle Paul have his say:
16-17 This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No—but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.
I am tempted to add “so help us, God”, because I know I need some help with this. As for that email, I did click send, unafraid.