And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11, KJV)
Since the heinous terroristic violence in San Bernardino, politicians, pundits, and the media have played to the public’s fears. If the goal of terrorists is to spread fear and panic, the news would certainly indicate they accomplished their goal. While such tragic events are impossible to understand, every generation has experienced the cruel work of depraved men and women. The time of the birth of Jesus was no exception. When Herod the Great heard that a child king had been born among the Jews, he ordered the massacre of all children under the age of two who lived in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The wise men warned Joseph and Mary, who immediately took their newborn and fled to Egypt. Yes, they too were refugees.
In my sacred imagination, I think of shepherds living during the time of Jesus’ birth as being pretty tough hombres. They dealt with attacks of wild animals on their flocks, bands of thieves, and the harsh elements. Armed with only knives, slingshots, and staffs, they courageously defended themselves and their way of life. While they didn’t have a No Fear logo on their tunics, these men were not easily frightened. This is why the announcement of the angel to the shepherds revealed the awesome power and majesty of God. On this special night, away from the safety of their village, the shepherds were confronted with a sight unlike any they had ever seen. These normally fearless men were terrified. The unknown, uncertainty, and things beyond our control can create fear.
After the recent massacre in California, a dear pastor friend had a member ask him, “What are we going to do if a terrorist comes into our church and blows it up?” Pastor Randy replied, “We’re going to Glory!” He later said, “I’m still trying to see the downside of that.” I agree with Pastor Randy when he added, “I’m sick and tired of everybody running scared.” Christians have nothing to fear. In the midst of persecution, Paul reminded the early band of Christians, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7)
This Christmas season, let us tune out the messages of fear. Some politicians breed fear because they want you to think they are the answer to our problems. They portray themselves as knights on white horses. Our hope is not in our government, 401k’s, bank accounts, the military, or public officials. Our hope is not in Wall Street, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or a wall along our border. Our hope is in Christ the Lord! Don’t allow fear to paralyze you from experiencing the power and love of God.
Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support in 2015. During this season and these unsettling times, may the words of the angel give you hope and courage. May you and your family experience true peace that comes from God through Jesus Christ.