WITHOUT THIS WEEK

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Here we are, caught up in the emotions and convictions that come with a fresh encounter of The Passion Week, and I find myself continually contemplating just how drastically this week changed the course of history.

I read a post by Sarah Clarkson a while ago that quickly became something I clung to and think about often, and I would like to share it with you as we think about what the cross has conquered on our behalf.

So here it is: “We’re always afraid, and we have good reason to be. Whatever joy or love we find, we cradle with one eye cocked to the horizon for looming war, or gathering disease, or anger or hatred, or loss. To be cynical, locked tight in our expectation of disaster, muscled, and chill, is natural.

To be unafraid is… miraculous. It is to unravel all our expectations of the world. It is to be… perhaps, as we were meant to be. It is to be childlike.

I’ve been watching my little ones this week; Lilian twirling with her birthday umbrella and Lucie lifting her arms in absolute expectation that I’ll answer her every peep and Samuel’s adorable presumption on my good humour. These children. They’re unafraid because they’re rooted beyond questioning in their sense of being loved. Perfect love casts out fear. Love, comprehensive, unconditional, divine, is the only presence in the world that can make us unafraid. But Love has come. Truly. To share our pain and remake the world. That’s what the angel was announcing when he appeared to Mary.

‘Be not afraid.’
What else could he say?
What else can I say?


I find it hard to know what to post these days in the face of such vast suffering. But I have wrestled with theodicy for years and the thing I have come to believe as I do my own breath is that God invades our grief and makes it the place of His saving arrival, His radical remaking of the world. He unravels evil. He turns loss backwards. He calls the whole world, even the bombed and weeping world, to be healed.

I have known the remaking light of that love and so, precisely because it is evil that tempts us to fear, I’ll at least say this: Love is here. Even here. Even there. Don’t be afraid.”

-Sarah Clarkson

Did you catch what she said? “Love, comprehensive, unconditional, divine, is the only presence in the world that can make us unafraid.”

Our souls are in desperate need of harmony. Harmony with our Messiah. We are longing to dance with the only One who understands everything about us. The One who doesn’t simply play the note we long to dance to, but is the note itself. The birth, death, and resurrection of Christ is what makes this harmony possible.

This harmony not only takes away our fear, but it replaces that space in our hearts that was once filled with unavoidable fear with unexplainable hope.

Rejoice, dear Christian, because what looks like utter defeat was His most glorious triumph!

Without this Passion Week, Christianity would just be another religion. Without this week, we wouldn’t know what true love feels like and how it transforms every part of our lives when we let Jesus be everything to us.

Without this week, I wouldn’t be writing to you about hope, about beauty, and about the light breaking into our darkness. Yet here we are, because of what our Lord Jesus has done.

“Come to your Temple here with liberation
And overturn these tables of exchange
Restore in me my lost imagination
Begin in me for good, the pure change.
Come as you came, an infant with your mother,
That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground
Come as you came, a boy who sought his father
With questions asked and certain answers found,
Come as you came this day, a man in anger
Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through
Face down for me the fear the shame the danger
Teach me again to whom my love is due.
Break down in me the barricades of death
And tear the veil in two with your last breath.”
– Malcolm Guite, “Sounding the Seasons”

EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL VERY BRAVE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

The fear in our world is pervasive. It is destroying lives, tearing families apart, and killing American churches off one by one. I cannot blame those who do not know Jesus for making wrong choices and living their lives in fear. After all, we can’t expect those who don’t know Jesus to live as if they do. But as for the American Church, we should look radically different… We unfortunately do not.

We look precisely like them.

We have let the world push their agenda of fear onto us. They are training us to believe that fear is perfectly acceptable, and that we should embrace it because it is “normal”. Obviously feeling fear is normal; but living in a state of fear is not (or at least it shouldn’t be for a Christian).

When you believe the lie that living in a state of fear is “normal”, it gives you the perfect excuse to not do brave things. If the enemy can use the world to get us to react and live our lives in fear, then it’s almost a guarantee that we won’t do anything about the evil they are promoting because we are inward focused.

We will be distracted and preoccupied.

If the world can get us to live selfishly and within their context of fear, then we are going to live like that in a spiritual context because they coexist. Fear, then, becomes our excuse not to do that which calls us to be brave because we think that everything depends on us, and we’re not willing to risk looking like a failure.

Currently, there is a war against the unborn babies and children of our generation, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

There is a war against the Church, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

There is a war against freedom, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

There is a war against Biblical sexuality and marriage, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

There is war against the perfect and authoritative Word of God, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

I love Ezekiel 2:1-8 which says, “He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

I believe God is calling The Few to do the same in 2022. We must speak boldly to a rebellious people, for our authority is not our own, but God’s. He never intended for us to live in fear. Instead, He longs for us to be courageous.

C. S. Lewis has a quote in his book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, that is simply remarkable. Peter, the oldest of four siblings who discover a place called Narnia, quickly comes to realize that he must lead an army against the White Witch who has used force and fear to make all of Narnia cower and comply with her wicked demands. Lewis says, “Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do.”

As Christians, our fear makes no difference to what we must do. Though many of us can relate with Peter, in that we do not feel very brave, our job is obedience. God’s job is outcome.

The truth is that we know we have to do something. We have no choice but to do it afraid. Without fear, there can be no courage.

Do the fearful know that the brave are among them? They should be afraid.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What is one way you can be spiritually brave this week?

= After reading this post, do you feel humbled or inspired?

= What are you going to do differently?