THE FEAR OF PEOPLE
But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself. (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put ouf of the synagogue.) John 9:21-22
The man whom Jesus healed of his blindness was brought to the synagogue to be interrogated by the religious leaders. Their answers were critical to their future as traditional Jews. They validated their son’s identity, an admission that was non-threatening to them. It was the Pharisees second question that was problematic. “Who healed your son?” The parents do what all of us have done when looking into the faces of those who pose a potential threat. They diluted their answer and passed the buck. “Ask him. He will tell you.”
Isaiah, writing under the influence of the Spirit, delivers us this message from God. “I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass?” Isaiah 51:12 Many either live with someone they fear or they are in relationship with someone who is threatening. Every question asked comes across as a ‘high stakes question’. Answer wrong and you’ll be made mincemeat. Navigating the relationship is like walking on eggshells. We often pray for God to change the other person and take away their sharp edges. This, we perceive, is the way out of the trap for us. However, there is another way of escape. We must learn not to fear man. Living in proximity with an angry, threatening person can be the very catalyst to teach us that God’s opinion is the only one that matters.
Standing in the fire does not happen overnight. It is a slow progression from paralyzing fear to a bold truthtelling. No transformation can be made however without a strong connection to Jesus, meditating on His Word and promises, and drawing close to Him for comfort. As we try out our new boldness, there will be instant resistance. Instead of abandoning the newly carved spiritual pathways, we should see each opportunity as a way to strengthen new faith muscles. Jesus will be there, just over our right shoulder, affirming, loving, and comforting. What might we hear when we still our spirit to listen? The likes of Zephaniah 3:17. “I delight in you. I quiet you my love. I rejoice over you with singing.” Only such praise from the One who matters will give us the courage to stay on the path of fierce resistance.
Speaking up for You, speaking truthfully, is not easy. But in this post-modern age, it’s going to get harder, even outside the walls of family. Strengthen me according to Your Word. Amen