In Acts 9, we find the story of Saul's conversion. What struck me as I read through that chapter this morning was the fearless actions of two men. First is Ananias, who goes to see Saul first. When God instructs him to go to Saul he responds, "Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem." Yet in obedience he goes, and Saul is healed, accepted by the church, and immediately begins preaching about Jesus.
The second is Barnabas. When the believers in Jerusalem fear Saul, Barnabas is the one who goes to him and introduces him to the apostles. Imagine what might have happened if these two men had chosen to act on fear instead of faith. Young Saul may have become disillusioned with the church and walked away. He may have become bitter with the church and started his own splinter group. But because these men chose to act out of faith, not fear, Saul eventually becomes the Apostle Paul.
I think back to how many times I have acted, and I have watched churches act, out of fear rather than faith. Do we need to be discerning? Yes. Should we be careless? Certainly not. But, when the first question we always ask is consequence related rather than mission related, there is a problem. When potentially effective ministries are cancelled, or never even considered because of what might happen, we have a problem. When effective new ministries are cancelled because of an off chance that someone might come in that wouldn't understand what we were talking about or why we were meeting in the back of the church instead of in the front, we have a problem. When fear of consequences outweighs faith in God's mission and call, we have a problem.
Father, I know that there have been times where, in my zeal, I ran out ahead of you. But, I also know that there have been far too many times when I have dragged my feet because of fear. Father, give me the wisdom and discernment to see clearly your call, and the faith to act on it no matter what. By your grace may my life be characterized by faith, not fear.