Saturday, May 14, 2011

Do Not Give Way to Fear

" Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." 
~~ 1 Peter 3:6

Peter writes here to exhort the women to not be overly focused on their outward appearance, but to prepare themselves spiritually. This Word stood out to me in response to the recent conversations on one of my message boards. One member expressed this concern: "I'm too worried about what others will think of me". Where does this anxiety come from? It is our human desire to feel accepted and a sense of belonging with others. There comes a time, however, that we as believers must understand that we are not part of this world. We may live in it for a time, but we do not have to conform to its ways. When we face anxiety like this, we must seek Him and His will for us. We have been called out to live our lives "set apart" and holy for Him.

When we fully understand our heritage through Him, we can allow Him to take all our fears and anxieties. Therefore, we have nothing to worry about. Our Messiah told us we may have to be separated, even from family, through our faith. But, we have a much bigger inheritance through Him! I believe we are coming into times when we will be tried and we will have to answer to where we stand: either with Him or with the world. Even in the seemingly insignificant things, like wearing covering or modest dress, we are standing on our convictions and taking action regarding our beliefs.

Yes, many will argue that it's not that important. That He knows the condition of our hearts and that's all that matters and that we are covered by grace and mercy through Him. And that it is not by works that we are "saved". No question that our Savior did that work for us, and through our profession of faith, we are saved! Yet, throughout scripture, we are also given instruction for living lives in obedience to Him, and not giving ourselves over to the world and evil.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

~~ Romans 12:1-2

Why is what we wear important? I mean what’s the big deal about covering? Well, I thought about all the ways He has changed me and given me strength to be courageous for Him. The belonging I have in Him!

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 
~~1 Peter 2:9

In fully realizing our true identity, through Him, comes peace, love and in understanding this love we cast out all fear. You can read in the second chapter of Acts and see how the Spirit transformed the man who was called "Simon" in the gospels, into the strong and powerful "foundation of the church", the man "Peter". It's an incredible witness to see this change from the man who denied knowing Messiah three times to one who was willing, even unto death, to boldly witness to the truth of who He is! (Read Acts 2:14-41)

What is our witness? How shall we walk in our daily lives to witness to those who haven't heard or fully realized Him? Are we willing to live today fully devoted to Him? Sometimes I feel as though many believers today are filled with fear. They are afraid of not being liked, or not accepted by others. Or they are afraid of offending others or being considered "radical" or even "crazy". We put our faith in its neat, little compartment, which we only open on the day we choose for worship, or church attendance. Then we go right back to the world and the rest of our living, having shut the box up for another week. We certainly don't want to mix the two or bring any apologetics or "religion" to our weekly duties!

Our witness requires more than lip service or the obligatory motions we make because "I was raised that way". I believe He is calling us all to go deeper with Him. To submit our every waking hour to Him, not just through weekly observances and rituals. It's knowing that our every breath depends upon Him and He becomes as important to us as the very air we breath! And when we can completely give ourselves and everything about our lives over to Him, He rewards us with "perfect peace" and casts away all our fears through His love! We can speak His word with confidence no matter the day or hour!

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

~~ 2 Timothy 1:7

I want to encourage you all to go deeper with Him. Allow yourselves to be completely given over to His will for you and your daily lives. If this submission includes making the decision to cover, that is wonderful for you! Rejoice in this as your opportunity to make an outward sign of your heart which has become His heart within! And speak boldly when asked about how He has changed your life and heart! Speak of His love and do all you can to spread that love to all you meet. When we can all do this, imagine how His glory will be revealed in the darkness of the world!

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ."

~~ Colossians 2:6-8

With much love to all my sisters in the faith!