Was Jesus afraid? Fearing God and loving people

Jesus was never afraid of people, and neither should we be, according to Biola professor Larry Smith.

Larry Smith, Writer

Jesus was afraid of spiders…maybe…or 10-foot waves…or heights; (possibly explaining His pained expression on Bardwell). He was fully human and, thus, possessed human weaknesses – all part of His incredible plan to identify with the human condition.

Me – I am a chicken: toads, rip tides, high ladders, menudo…I am easily cowed. Even at “safe” Biola, there are spots I avoid: The fountain (too convalescent hospital-ish), Common Grounds (too Republican), The Jesus Mural (too tall, immovable, and grouchy); and Rosemead and Rose of Sharon Prayer Chapel just plain creep me out.

But, thanks to the Holy Spirit, I have never met a person on or off campus who caused me alarm or more than mild apprehension. So, back to Jesus… Despite those things that may have caused Him earthly consternation, I’m quite sure he was never afraid of people. Whether confronting the demonic at Gadara or the deadly duo of Herod and Pilate, He never lost His composure or personal touch. His love for every single person trumped any chance of trepidation.

I never swallowed the WWJD trend; how do you emulate a Guy who caused a trout to cough up a shekel? However, I am confident that, when faced with people, He always opted for love, including the tough style reserved for the Pharisees. So, want to be like Jesus? Love everyone and do not be afraid of anyone. I will make an exception for the tatted-out thug coming at you with a crack pipe in one hand and a machete in the other, but, in virtually all of your contacts, do not fear humanity!

I am not a role model or paragon of Christian courage. But, I am learning that anthropophobia is a disorder the enemy designed to buckle our knees in the face of the Great Commission.

As a personal challenge, my wife Niki, proud Biola graduate of 1972, and I recently purchased a barrio mansion in Boyle Heights, two miles directly east of downtown LA. The purpose of “Hollenbeck House” is to provide inexpensive housing for Biola seniors and recent grads who have chosen to trade suburban comfort for urban grit and who welcome the challenge of living in community. Among other activities, Danica Garcia works with homeless children, Alicia Miller, Jose Palos, and David tutor high school football players, Jennifer teaches at a local middle school, and everyone, including Ashlee, Richard, and Michelle sacrifice time and energy to be blessed by and bless a community which was featured in Anderson Cooper’s recent CNN series, “Homicide in Hollenbeck.”

Do we lock our doors? Occasionally. Do we park in lighted areas? When there is space. Do we walk the neighborhood at night? Usually. Are we braver than those of you who went on SMU trips during summer break; tougher than those of you who participate in “Say Yes”? Of course not. You all have unparalleled contact opportunities and, I promise that, as you move beyond your fears, Jesus will gift you with a peace that far surpasses logic. I have experienced it with Arabs in a dark Damascus Souk, in the jungles of New Guinea, and with the homies on my block. People can certainly be challenging, confusing, and creepy, but they are almost never legitimately dangerous. Worst case scenario: you get whacked and go to heaven sooner than you expected! And, what is bad about that?!

Our charge from the Lord is to fear Him, not mankind. That is it. If you want to panic, try these on: Be afraid that, at the end of your life, you realize that you only cared about yourself. Be terrified that God was obliged to farm out the Christian responsibilities He set aside for you because you were afraid of the people He wanted you to bless. Be horrified that your “Well done, good and faithful servant,” heavenly welcome might come with a footnote. In other words, spending your life in Irvine might ultimately prove more frightening than homesteading in South Central, Mozambique or the Cherokee Nation.

So, please base your life decisions and human contacts not out of concern for your safety but concern that there are millions out there who are suffering and more who are walking the roadway to hell. Now, that is terrifying!

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