“Through one man sin entered into the world…” Let me take you back to that one man whom we call Adam. Let’s go back to the time that sin first entered into the world. Adam felt the weight of that sin immediately. Remember the afternoon after he sinned and God, the friend of creation, came to visit and walk about with Adam in the breezy part of the day. Where was Adam hanging out that afternoon? I seem to recall that Adam had found a little hiding place for himself behind some bushes. For the first time Adam was afraid. His great fear was that God would find him out. Adam had just discovered his weakness and vulnerability. He realized that he was naked and he was filled with shame. He felt small and helpless and everything and everyone was a threat to Adam. Everything threatened to reveal him and crush him in his guilt.
What was going on with Adam was also a part of Jeremiah’s experience. “I hear the whispering of many: ‘Terror on every side! Denounce! Let us denounce him!’ All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine.” The whispers that Jeremiah heard were most probably in his head and in his heart. We hear the same whispers at times in our own inner lives, the whispers of the accuser who threatens to bare all and shout to the world our sins and failings.
All of us have a frightened, naked, sinful Adam hiding out in our hearts. All of us hear the whispers of guilt echoing in our heads. It is the terror of the night, the horror of our nightmares that we will stand before the whole world naked and ashamed, exposed, accused and found wanting. Such fear is indeed terrifying. Such fear paralyzes us and keeps us from moving forward in our lives. It keeps us from taking risks and trying anything great and glorious because we know ourselves as having failed. We want to be great and do something special with our lives but who are we kidding. Such fear eats us up inside and turns us bitter and angry, sullen and defensive.
There is a desire for holiness in our hearts. We want to be good, to be rewarded, to be acclaimed, to be approved but the fear within us whispers to us the futility of those desires. We pray and work on our spiritual exercises, we do what we can to appear charitable and show our best side but there is always lurking that fear that we will be found out to be a fraud. We know our sinfulness and we know what we have done in the secret recesses of our hearts and there is always that fear that soon everyone else will also know it and we will be exposed to public shame.
Jesus knows our fears. In the context of these debilitating fears Jesus exhorts his apostles, “Fear no one.” Jesus is trying to diffuse our fear of exposure by letting out a little secret. “Guess what, God already knows that you have sinned. God already knows what you are trying to keep hidden. God can see what is in your heart. God knows and he still loves you. God knows and he hasn’t destroyed you.” In a sense today Jesus is telling his apostles, “Get over it.” There are no secrets that will not be known so don’t keep on fooling yourself that you are fooling others. There is a true freedom in getting past our fear of exposure. When someone finally knows our secrets there is a real freedom that we experience because we no longer need to hide and live a lie. Jeremiah finds his strength in the knowledge that “the Lord is with me,” the one who probes minds and hearts knows me better than I know myself and he is worthy of my trust. Jesus puts it this way, “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.” (for some of us that is simple math) Our hope in the midst of our fears is that Jesus will stand with us in the final hour of judgment and justify us in his love.
“So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” In other words, God knows you just like he knows everything that happens to sparrows in secret, and God loves you more than you can ever imagine. So cast out that cowering, sinful Adam and stand with Jesus Christ in your hearts for “how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.” Our confidence comes from the knowledge that in the end Jesus will stand with us and say, “He’s okay. He’s with me.”
- Religious Education
- Parish Center
- Online Giving
- Prayer Request
- Contact Us