“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.’ Luke 12:4-5 (NIV)
What kind of warning is this? Jesus says that we need to watch out for misleading teachings. Where is He going with that? Would He have meant that there were some devious people once long ago? Or is He including in His instruction pertinent information for us today? Do we too make up part of the crowd who would learn from what He has to say today? Can we let those words touch us now? Is Jesus saying that not all our pious religious activity is actually directed at God? Is He trying to open our awareness that although some may seem to point to God, their motives may have fallen short? Could there be a little too much human nature wrapped up in some forms of worship today? Although we may not easily detect it, could some religion be left without any real connection to God?
Is this part of the problem of our race? As we read of the history of mankind, do we get the sensation that God has forever been trying to clear our vision of Him? Do we always seem to get things muddled up somehow? Do we normally try to lower the Almighty to a set of rules, a set of rituals or a set of ideals? All the while could we be missing that He is alive, present and trying to communicate with us? Has God always been trying to have an intimate and dear relationship with His people? Is this where we go wrong? Do we remove Him and His Presence from the here and now? By ignoring His Presence do we somehow try to make all our scurrying about seem more important? Could we forget that He is here and therefore be left to go on acting and worshipping as we seem fit? Would any teaching that removes God in any way from direct contact and Presence here with us, be hypocrisy?
Does Jesus go on to say that we should never fear those who can only kill our physical body? Is He telling us not to make so much of what men say? Is He saying that we should be looking for and listening to hear Him? Is He saying that we should rather fear One who can touch us even beyond the grave? Would the only One who could do that be God Himself? Is He telling us that we should reconcile ourselves to our Maker? Is it He whom we should truly concern ourselves with? Does Jesus know what He is talking about? Does it sound like He has seen into the deeper meanings of our existence? Would He be trying to share with us something that may really help us now? Would His warnings quite possibly be able to help us for a long time to come? Have we ever considered eternity? Is that pretty big stuff? Does it sound like Jesus has our best interest in mind? Has He done enough for us? Can we see that He cares? Could we do well today to listen, to hear, and to consider again in our hearts if we are truly fearing men, or God?
Dear Jesus, we hear Your words. We can only guess at the depth of what You are trying to tell us. But we know that You are trying to give us insight that may help us today. Open our ears and our hearts. Let the full weight of eternity rest on whether or not we listen. Let now and forever depend on whether we really bring ourselves to You. Do not let us hold You to ideals, but to make You real. Let us not keep You wrapped in teachings of men or a form of worship. We want You to actually be here with us! We want to KNOW that You are here right now!