35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me: what have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:35-36 [NASB])
15 And I (Saul) said, “Who are you, Lord?” And the Lord, said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:15-18 [NASB])
As Christians, we know without doubt where we will go when we no longer live on this earth. We don’t fear eternity. Yet, many of us fear what will happen to us on earth; what humankind will do to us if we say or do what Jesus' Spirit tells us to say or do. We fear of being ostracized. We fear of being rejected by people we think we want to impress or to have as friends. We fear physical persecution.
In the earthly realm, these fears seem normal and appropriate. Yet, if we truly are followers of Christ and, as such, are the children of God, these fears should not affect how we live. Remember, fear is not of God. Instead, we must submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit and let Him clothe us with the new nature that comes from Jesus. By this, we will become more like Christ every day. We are to submit ourselves, so the fears of the world do not enter our thinking. If we fear, we are letting the old nature block our acceptance and keep us from living in the new nature.
In John 18:36, Jesus implied because His servants, His followers, were not fighting to get Him released from custody, Pilate could know they truly were His followers, Christians. They sought to do the Father's will. Jesus' followers understood, because He told them His arrest and crucifixion would happen and was part of God's plan for the salvation of humanity. Jesus told His followers they would face persecution, too, and stand strong by His Spirit’s empowering of them. Because He stood strong, they could know they could stand strong in the face of persecution.
When Jesus met Saul on the road to Damascus, Jesus told Saul He would rescue him from the Jewish people and the Gentiles (Acts 26:17). He made sure Saul knew being a follower of Jesus would mean being, doing, and saying things contrary to what the world wants to hear, see, and be. So, knowing Jesus will rescue him and will send His Spirit to empower and embolden him to endure ostracism and physical persecution, encouraged and gave His later followers the ability to stand strong by the new nature He put within them when they received salvation.
Fear should not affect our following Jesus. We can do or say what the Spirit leads us to do or say in this world. Jesus went before us as the Son of God who lived as a man and became the model for us of how we should live, act, speak, and think. He told us persecution would happen. Jesus told us He would rescue us, too. He might not rescue us immediately, but in the eternal time frame, He has already rescued us and we can go forward with hope and assurance in faith because of Jesus.
Today, some of us are facing battles and persecution. It would be so much easier to give in and give up the fight rather than stand strong against those things. Remember, Jesus has overcome Satan, sin, death, and the world. There is nothing to fear. Live with the new nature Jesus gave you, not the old, mortal, fearful nature. Watch what God is doing and is about to do because of your faithfulness to Him.
God is able and is faithful to do the impossible using the finite for His eternal good.
While I (Jesus) was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which you have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished, but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. (John 17:22 [NASB])
Lord, I want to live and be Your disciple, Your child, here on earth the way You lead me, but at times I allow my old nature and fear to lead me. I say, “I am just an introvert” or “I have small children to protect.” I allow my old nature, my human reasoning to lead me instead of You. I’m sorry, Lord. You are God and can do anything. You are faithful and love me and will do what is best. I can trust in You. Please forgive me to live based on my reasoning and my comfort zone. Help me step out and live in faith where You lead me so other people may hear about, come to know You, and be saved. I love You, Lord. Amen.