The most frequent negative command in the bible is "do not be afraid."
As a counselor we always said that anger and fear were related. Anger and depression are the emotional response to fear. Yesterday at Morning Prayer we had the same Gospel reading as we did on Sunday. It does not happen very often, so when it does it catches my attention.( Matthew 6:25-34)
Jesus basic premise seems to be "God provides." He points out the birds and the flowers and makes mention of God's providence there. Then He asks the question, "Aren't you of more value than these?" That question is at the heart of the current debates of our society. Are humans of more value than the rest of creation? Evolutionary Naturalism would say "no." In the godless view, we humans are just part of a vast, accidental system. We do not have any inherent value. We are no different than birds, flowers or any other living thing.
The Judaeo-Christian view, which affirms the value of all creation (God said it was good!), has a different view. We believe that human beings are in the image of God. We believe that human beings have a unique relationship with the creator. We believe we have a moral responsibility to one another (as well as the world). Humans can pray and worship, that is what sets us apart.
So in a world where we are constantly told that we do not matter, is it any surprise that there is an increase in tension and worry? Fear and worry are the fruit of "being alone" in a cold, dark, vast universe. Jesus offers us a different view. He invites us to believe that our God will provide all that we need. One reason why church community is so vital is because we need to be in connection with people who can verbalize to us the fact of our being valued. Yesterday I wrote about the delay between trauma and the consequences of that trauma. Each of us, aware or not, has a deep hunger for real relationship. One of the saddest things is how we live side by side without ever being witnesses of God's love in a radical way. We need to take advantage of the opportunity given each day to make an impact in the life of others. We are called to awaken hope, to bring to light the dignity of human personhood and to challenge people to live like children of God (and not by-products of blind biological reactions to unintentional natural forces).
So fear not! Be brave! The word comfort literally means (com = with, fort = strong) to strengthen one another. We need to be a comfort to one another. One final word, lest this become too "pie in the sky," Jesus ends this exhortation to faith and courage with the realistic reminder that it will not be easy: "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." Today's trouble is enough.... He does not say that we will be sheltered. He does not say we will avoid problems. He says don't be focused on the worries in the days ahead, we have enough to deal with right now. I think it is good advice. In reality, most of the things we worry about never come to pass. Looking at my life right now, it is very good. It has been very good for a long time. I need to be greatful for that and spend more time trying to make other people's lives very good (salvation) and less time worrying about what could go wrong. Seek first the kingdom of God!