Reflection #9 – The Fearless Pharisee

During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.

The Fearless Pharisee

As a Christian, I know that Jesus has made it totally safe for me to live and die. I know that no matter what happens, Jesus has me in His grip and will not let me go. He makes me unsnatchable.

Neither troubles, nor abuse, nor sickness nor death can take me away from Him. Even if I die, I still have life with Him in heaven. My soul will go immediately to be with Jesus. And one day He will raise my body too, and body-and-soul I will live with Jesus and with all His family in a new creation, heaven-on-earth.

What a day that will be! What hope that gives me all the time!

Even so, though I have so much hope and safety in Jesus, I still often feel fear and anxiety. And then I need to take my fears to Jesus, and He quietens my soul. He reminds me that He died in my place and came back to life for me. He reassures me and renews my peace. He says to us:

Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

If I did not know Jesus, I’m sure I would be a nervous wreck right about now. What if I catch the virus? What if I die? What about my family? What about my plans? What about facing God?

What I want for every person around me, and the whole world, is to have and enjoy the same peace that I do – Jesus Christ. The Bible calls this the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7)

But I also have another tendency – to get on my fearless kick, look at the panic and hysteria all around me, shake my head and think, “Wow, I thank God I’m not as foolish and afraid as they are. What’s their problem?! Why on earth are they behaving like that? I have no fear.”

Then I’m like the Pharisee in the parable that Jesus told. As very religious people who studied a lot about God and theology, the Pharisees used their relationship with God to look down on others who didn’t have the same knowledge they had.

In Jesus’ parable, told in Luke 18, the Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed like this:

God, I thank you that I’m not like other people-greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.

Luke 18:11-12

He didn’t realize that he was just as sinful and unworthy as everyone else and that the only way he could be saved is if God showed him extreme mercy. Rather than rely totally and humbly on God for his salvation, he believed in himself. He put his confidence in his own goodness. He was self-righteous.

But as a Christian I can think the same way about myself and about the fear I see around me:

God, I thank you that I am not like other people, scared, anxious, panicking. I thank you especially that I’m not like those crazy shoppers who hoard as if it’s their only hope. I’m not afraid. I have faith. I belong to Jesus.

When we think or talk like that, we suddenly have forgotten grace. I would be a panicky mess if Jesus had not come to me when I was lost, confused and afraid, and if He had not rescued me from judgment and made me His very own. I would still be falling apart from fear if Jesus didn’t keep comforting me and reassuring me every day.

None of my fearlessness is from myself. It’s all from Jesus. And when I see someone’s life unravelling from fear, I should see myself in that person.

I should feel the deepest empathy and compassion and do whatever I can to share with her the comfort that Jesus gives me. My only comfort is that body and soul, in life and in death, I belong to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. What a mighty comfort that is, day and night, for me and my family!

As the epidemic continues to spread and the numbers jump in our part of the planet, fears are escalating. People everywhere need peace. We need hope.  We need safety for our tired, guilty, anxious lives. Jesus is the perfect place for you today, whether or not you are a Christian. He says: Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) He will not turn away anyone who gives up on himself and gives his life to Jesus for safety – safety in body and soul, safety in life and death.