We humans have a unique ability to be frightened at absolutely nothing. We are different than animals even though animals have some of the similar chemistry as we do. I see it in squirrels as I draw closer to them in the road with my car. They begin to run with all their might when danger fast approaches. They don’t always make the right decision on which direction to run, sometimes they can’t make up their minds at all. But when there is danger, animals are given a short boost of adrenaline to act. We have the same thing. When danger strikes, we move. This is the “fight, flight, or freeze” mechanism in our brain. Our heartrate increases to get blood flow to the brain so we can make quick decisions and move. But there is a negative side to this reaction. It takes energy away from vital organs so that we don’t need in
the moment to survive. For the animals, it happens for a quick moment until it is in safety. Humans have the unique ability to be frightened by absolutely nothing. Our brains can do amazing things to bring us to that heightened state of “fight, flight, or freeze” without
any danger at all. This is called chronic stress or worry. It’s bad when it takes vital energy away from out organs and can cause serious physical ailments. Even though God promised, I will never leave you or forsake you, it still happens. We have no reason to be afraid or be in this heightened state of anxiety because of the love God has for us in Jesus Christ. But
we still do. Jesus explained the future reality to his disciples in such glowing terms as, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.... They will hand you over to councils, and they will whip you in their synagogues.... Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father will do the same with his child.
Children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all people because of my name.” Jesus does not paint an optimistic future to their present reality. It appears that they have everything to lose at this point. They have every reason to be afraid and worry. Jesus says, “Don’t be worried.” How in the world is that possible?
Most worry or fear comes from the thought of losing something—whether it’s security through status, looks, money, family, whatever, I am going to be fearful, more easily threatened, and more prone to worry when I imagine the loss. Animals don’t do this. We are highly intelligent, the top of the food chain, we can put a man on the moon, and we still invent things to make us feel threatened. Squirrels don’t lie awake at night wondering if another squirrel will transfer them to another location or fire them. They don’t start to worry about whether the other squirrels make fun of the size or color of their tail. They don’t toss and turn wondering if their baby squirrels are going to out-perform the others or live up to be successful acorn hunters. Their heart rate doesn’t go up in anticipation of some great squirrel event.
We can imagine threats and stay in a flight, fright, freeze mode about things that haven’t happened yet. We have a fear of losing something or fear of not getting something we think we need we can have this added stress. We hold on to worry because we don’t trust God, which is a slap in the face of him, his love for us and his ability to protect us. Fear and worry run from you when you have nothing to lose. Jesus said, I am sending you....
19 Whenever they hand you over, do not be worried about how you will respond or what you will say, because what you say will be given to you in that hour. 20
In fact you will
not be the ones speaking, but the Spirit of your Father will be speaking through you. These disciples didn’t need to worry over it because they had nothing to lose. I am sending you... Which means “I; your confidant and friend, your savior and protector, your rock and
solid foundation, am sending you. I have ridden with many different people driving.” I can recall one driver who would swerve in and out of traffic, speeding, and using the cell phone in one hand. With that driver, I was gripping the handles so tight, I’m not sure why my fingers aren’t still stiff from the ride. Then there is the drive that I was so comfortable with that I could fall asleep. When you know/trust the driver and that he loves you, you can sit back and enjoy the scenery. Jesus is the one who is driving. Disciples of Jesus don’t need to worry because the driver is God himself. That God went ahead and defeated the largest of obstacles. As Martin Luther wrote about the work of Jesus, “He has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sin, from death and from the power of the devil. Not with gold or silver but with his holy precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. All this he did that I should be his own and live under him in his kingdom and serve him.” (from explanation of the 2nd Article of the Apostles Creed). We can be bold to speak about such a God to others. These disciples didn’t need to worry over it because it wasn’t about them. It wasn’t them at all. It was all God, his word, his Spirit. Notice how Jesus emphasized the work of the Spirit who would be in them and give them exactly the words to say. That promise includes you. Martin Luther concludes about the success of the reformation, “I did nothing, the word did everything.” When you are a Christian, it means that everything belongs to Jesus, including your very life, and nothing is yours. Everything is his. That means everything is safe. He loves and protects what is his. He died for what is his. You have nothing to lose. Whenever a fear over loss or a heightened sense of worry comes up, know this reality. “I belong to God. My children belong to God. My health belongs to God. My future belongs to God. My finances belong to God. I have nothing to lose. I will not be afraid. I have nothing to lose because in Jesus, I already have everything.”