October 11, 2010

To Live is Christ — Be not afraid

A Greg Olsen print in our living room reminds me of the relationship I have with Jesus. In this painting, Jesus stands on a rock at the edge of a stream. He has a child in one arm and another is stretched out grasping the hand of another whose feet are caught in the water and rocks.

The painting suggests other thoughts and symbols, but the title, “Be Not Afraid” echos today’s devotional verse.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)
Jesus came to pull people from the clutches of sin. Yes, we wade into it — either without thought or on purpose, and yes, we are like children in many ways. We haven’t a clue how much trouble we can get into until we are in it. However, Jesus is there for us.

Olsen captures the mood of His rescue. The scene could have conveyed the terror of the moment, but it doesn’t. Instead, it evokes peace. The child in arms is safe. The other one still has his feet in trouble, but because he has responded to Jesus’ outstretched arm, safety is eminent. You know that he will be rescued.

That is the intent of John 3:17. This verse conveys hope. Although the world deserves condemnation, and although some fear for their eternal security, Jesus came to save us. He offers no superficial pat on the head and a ‘pass’ on what we have done. Instead, He takes our punishment and condemnation on Himself and dies in our place. Sin is the real danger and Jesus offers a real solution for sin.

I know that my sin is the reason I deserved condemnation. For those who are aware of God’s judgment, sin is the reason they fear it, but Jesus took care of sin. He also takes care of the fear. Those who believe in Him know that their sin is forgiven and washed away. Fear is replaced with confidence and hope, even joy.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1–2)
I am the child in His arms, one set free from the grip of sin and now safe in His care. Should I slip back into that rocky and scarey place like the child in the water, He stands ready to rescue me. I belong to Him and my eternity is secure.

Scripture is my best reminder and encouragement, but I’m thankful to Olsen. He uses his talents to depict the heart of Jesus Christ. His work glows with the warmth of someone who knows that in Christ we can live without fear.

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