No Fear
Isaiah 6:1-8 and Romans 8:12-17

Is there anything you are afraid of?  Do any of you have any deep seated fears, rational or otherwise?  For some it might be speaking in public or open spaces, a fear of animals or birds or heights, trains, planes and automobiles, and the list can go on and on and on.  Fear can be a big part of our lives, it can dominate us, cripple us and leave us a quivering mess cowering in a corner desperately praying for someone to come and set us free.

Imagine waking from a dream in which you have been confronted by the one true and living God, after seeing him seated on a throne, high and exalted, and around him were these weird looking angels with six wings, one pair covering their faces, one pair covering their feet and flying using the last two.  Then add to that a noise so loud that it shook the building as they called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory”.  You wouldn’t know what to think, was this real, was it a dream, you might be wiping the sweat from your brow and checking to see if you were awake or even alive.

That’s probably what Isaiah would have experienced, but his vision didn’t stop there, he realised that he had come into the presence of the Holy One and therefore he should have been struck down dead, but instead he cried out, “Woe to me, I am ruined, For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.”  Then add to that one of those weird looking flying creatures flying over to the altar and taking a pair of tongs and removing a live coal, then placing it in his hand and flying it over to him.  The Seraph took it and placed it on his lips and told him that his guilt is taken away and his sin atoned for.  Frightening stuff really isn’t it.

What was Isaiah’s response though?  When he heard the Lord call out “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us” he simply said, “Here I am, send me!”  This was a vision that God had given to Isaiah as he prepared him for a very difficult time of prophesying to God’s people that there were difficult and trying times ahead.  Isaiah may have felt inadequate for the task but God had shown him from the outset that he had been purified by God and was ready for the task ahead.  It still would have been a scary task though!

Remember what it was like on the first day of your first job, butterflies going all directions in your stomach, not really knowing what to expect, what would the boss be like, what time will I get a break for coffee and lunch?  You were probably hoping desperately that you don’t make a silly mistake and embarrass yourself or cost the boss money.  How would you fit in with your new work colleagues?  All of those are typical thoughts and fears and doubts that rattle away in our heads when we take on something new.  But Isaiah was being led directly by a vision from God to go and do what had been revealed to him.  We don’t get the full instructions in today’s reading, but I encourage you to read the rest of the chapter when you get home today.   

 

In his letter to the Romans Paul was similarly encouraging the young church in Rome to live in accordance with the Spirit of God as they learned to be children of God.  He was encouraging them not to follow the sinful nature that still existed in them, for doing so was no way to live, but they should be released from fear and live as heirs of the Father.  Even though there may be suffering and difficult times, they have an inheritance that far outweighs anything this sinful life could throw at them.  Paul was giving them an insight into living in communion with God, calling on his holy name and living in accordance with his will.

Living differently to the world can be quite scary too, not knowing what the future will hold, running the risk of persecution and suffering.  Living at odds with the community is not an easy thing to do.  But by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God we can face the challenges and burdens that are thrown at us, in all things God works for good for those who love him who are called according to his purpose.  We are heirs of the kingdom of God, because by the power of the Spirit we have received adoption to sonship.  This adoption is in the sense of the terms of the Holy Roman Empire, sonship means given full rights and even ownership of all that belongs to the father’s house, no longer a slave but one of the ‘boys’, so we shouldn’t fear, but live under the protection of the father.

Then in our gospel today Nicodemus seems to be fearful as he comes to Jesus at night to ask questions of him.  He also seems a bit baffled by what Jesus tells him.  Things of this kingdom and God’s kingdom, being born again, doesn’t make much sense to him.  He can’t grasp the concepts that Jesus is trying to teach him about.  We shouldn’t be surprised really, there are plenty of questions that we would love to ask Jesus, things we don’t understand about faith, forgiveness or eternal life.  Things we fear and things we would love to know but simply don’t understand.

Perhaps the apparent simplicity of John 3:16-17 is to help us to alleviate fear and give us a simple insight into God’s will for us.  For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

When we stop and reflect on these verses there is nothing we should fear, God loves, us, sent his son to die for us so that we would have eternal life through him.  What more do we really need from life?

Amen.