What is your greatest fear?
What a question to start us off today!
According to one survey the top three greatest fears are:
- Fear of the dark
- Fear of public speaking
- Fear of heights
Maybe like hundreds of thousands of people around the world one of these three is your greatest fear!
Facing our fears can be really difficult, but some people do give it a really good go. Take Mr Cameron for example – he had the most irrational fear of the speed bump in his road – yes, fear of a speed bump – but he slowly got over it! Or Miss Fraser – she was terrified of lifts in tall buildings – so she took some steps to avoid them.
There are all sorts of irrational fears out there – take Dr Macdonald – she was afraid of German sausage – always fearing the wurst! And Mrs McInnes – she was afraid of giants – had a terrible case of FeeFiphobia!
In all seriousness, fear is something that can paralyse us and stop us from leading fruitful lives. I remember a man I knew telling me that his greatest fear was that someday he would be found out. “What do you mean?” I asked him. “That they will know I’m not who I say I am; that I’m not who I want them to think I am; that I’m not who I want to be,” he answered.
Beneath his fear he knew there were ‘cracks in his house’. He knew that a divided house cannot stand and a divided kingdom would most certainly crumble.
From the beginning of his ministry Jesus had been dealing with divided houses and kingdoms. He cast out demons, healed Peter’s mother-in-law, cleansed a leper and caused a paralysed man to walk. The houses and kingdoms of these people were divided. Their lives were not their own. They lived with inner conflict and turmoil and been separated from their communities and all that gave them security and identity. Their outer conditions of illness, paralysis and possession pointed to an inner conflict – the battle between health and disease, not just physical health and disease but spiritual health and disease!
The battle within us, the conflict between good and evil has been raging ever since Adam and Eve separated themselves from God and hid amongst the trees of the garden. It was evident when the nation of Israel demanded a king so it could be like all the other nations; forgetting that it had a unique calling, that it was to be different from other nations, that it was through Israel, the people of God, that God would act for the benefit of all people.
Division and inner conflict is a reality of today’s world and of each of our lives. A relationship with another divided breaks down rapidly. A nation divided results in vitriolic politics and in the extreme – civil war. An economy divided yields poverty and injustice. A community divided becomes individualism and tribalism, prejudice and violence. Humanity divided is all these things on a global level. Faith divided is sin.
We all know what it is like to live divided lives. Think about those times in your life when your outside and your inside simply don’t match up? That’s what it means to be a house divided. You’re one person at work, another at home. You act one way with certain people and a different way with other people. Life gets divided into pieces. Behaviour, beliefs, and ethics become situational. There is the work life, the family life, the prayer life, the personal life, the social life and pretty soon we’re left with a life in pieces.
It can seem that we are forever trying to put the pieces of our lives back together. That’s why, in our gospel reading this morning, the crowd has gathered around Jesus. That’s why the religious authorities oppose him. That’s why his family tries to restrain him. In their own way each is trying to put the pieces of their lives together, but it’s not working. They won’t fit. They have been found out. Their lives and their world are neither what they thought they were, nor what Jesus knows they could be. One reality has fallen and a new one is ready to rise!
Jesus always stands before us as the image of unity and wholeness. He is the stronger one. If we will allow Him, He will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He will put our lives and our houses back in order. Jesus offers a different image of what life might look like. He does so by revealing the division in our lives, the houses that cannot stand and the crumbling of our kingdoms.
It’s hard to look at the division and inner conflict within our lives. But the beginning of wholeness comes in acknowledging our brokenness.
Where is your own house divided? How and to what extent have you created conflict and division within your relationships? In what ways do you live a fragmented life? What is it that shatters your life? Anger and resentment? Greed? Insecurity, perfectionism, sorrow or loss? Maybe it’s fear, envy, guilt or loneliness.
There are all sorts of forces, things, events, sometimes even people by which our lives are broken and through which we are separated from God, others, and our self. But be assured that Jesus Christ is stronger than anything that fragments our lives. He binds the forces that divide, heals the wounds that separate, and refashions pieces into a new whole. There is nothing about your life or my life that cannot be put back together by the love of God in Christ. Come to Him, offer every part of who you are and He will make you whole.
May God Bless you and those you hold dear in this coming week.