There is a significant connection between ignorance and fear. We fear what we do not know.
I’ve been honored to be with a few people who knew their last days in this life were upon them. They may have had some regrets, many had sadness about leaving those they love, but their fear was not knowing what was to come. It wasn’t that they suddenly lost faith in God or thought they were facing a bad eternity, but it was the unknown - how would it feel in those final moments, what would the moment of death be like, what comes next?
That’s an easy and fairly common example, but we fear the unknown in other aspects of life, too. We are about to begin a new school, a new job, move to a new town and the unknown raises all kinds of anxieties within us. Someone we’re not used to seeing walk past our home passes it and we watch with a wary eye.
Wariness is easy to exploit. We’re naturally preconditioned to have an impulse toward self-preservation, then someone names it for us - you should really watch him, he could be trouble and we have our caution confirmed and heightened.
There was a new Pharaoh in Egypt who “did not know Joseph” and his ignorance, combined with fear, fear that may have been stoked by advisors, led to disastrous results. Ignorance and fear led to 400 years of anguish for Joseph’s descendants, as well as a tragic era for the Egyptian descendants. We’ll hear the story (Exodus 1:8-2:10) Sunday in the sanctuary, as we think about what fear can do.
One way to counter fear is to claim something different, to practice (even when it’s not your first impulse) trusting a messiah who says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid” (John 14). This is the one who makes it possible to claim, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). When Jesus asked who do you say I am and Peter gave the right answer (the messiah), Peter was throwing his trust behind Jesus. Whatever fears he had (and would continue to have) were challenged, if not defeated, by his conviction about who Jesus is. Rev. Pietila will share about Peter’s faith claim (and ours) found in Matthew 16:13-20 this Sunday in The Well.
Don’t be afraid to come worship the messiah with us this week,