No fear

picture kindly provided by www.publicdomainpictures.net

I have got the most beautiful 12 string Guitar. £1200 worth of guitar. My musical friends have seen it and drooled over it. The most amazingly clean and beautiful sound comes out of it when you strum the strings, or rather the most clean and beautiful sounds come out of it when someone else strums the strings. When I strum a hideous racket comes out.

When someone musical plays it I actually start to feel embaraced. You see I am the least musical person in the world. Seeing someone musical play it reminds me of just how wasted it is belonging to such a graceless, clumsy, rhythmless, tone deaf musical-philistine with two left hands. It’s a travesty that I am allowed to pick up this guitar let alone ‘play’ it.

In Luke 1 68-79 John the Baptists father, Zechariah sings this song:

68“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,

because he has come and has redeemed his people.

69He has raised up a horn[d] of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David

70(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),

71salvation from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us—

72to show mercy to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant,

73the oath he swore to our father Abraham:

74to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,

and to enable us to serve him without fear

75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;

for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

77to give his people the knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins,

78because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

79to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

This song announces that God is starting to fulfil his promises, promises that Israel has spent hundreds of years waiting for. David, Abraham, Jacob, Elijah, they were all waiting for this moment and now it was finally here. The messenger sent ahead to prepare the way for the Lord had been born, and he had been born to Zachariah.

How would you have felt if you were Zachariah? Being told that the fulfilment of prophesy was about to happen after hundreds of years of waiting. And you have a part to play. Just think of all of those Old Testament characters who have been waiting for this? The great King David, The guy who killed a giant with just a stone then went on to rule Israel. Abraham, the father of Israel, the man from whom the whole Jewish nation came from. The prophets, those great men of faith people like Isaiah and Elijah. They had all, without exception, been waiting for this moment, and now the messenger sent ahead to prepare the way was coming.

And this messenger was not coming from a great warrior king, not from the father of a nation, not from a great man of faith, but from an infertile old man. I think Zachariah would have been comparing himself to those people and thinking ‘why me? How could God possibly use me?’

But that is the point. Zachariah tells us that all of this is happening……

……….to enable us to serve him without fear

75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Curious phrase that. Why serve him without fear? Why would people be scared to serve the living God?

Well the answer is sin, all those things that we’ve done wrong. Sin puts up all kinds of barriers between us and God. The fact that we are sinful means that we aren’t worthy to be Gods children. God is too holy for us, we don’t deserve to be in the same room as him let alone serve him.

I used to lead a Bible study on a Thursday evening. There were so many times when I’d sinned earlier on in the day, I would feel like a hypocrite. When I sat down to lead the study there would be a little voice in my head saying ‘who do you think you are? Doing a Bible study about Christian living, when you’re such a bad Christian?’. I bet I’m not alone in those feelings.. It’s scary coming before God to serve him when you are a sinner.

Luckily, though Zachariah tells us that things are changing. We don’t need to be scared of serving God, because he is doing something about sin.John, Zachariah’s son, will starting the ball rolling.

77to give his people the knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins,

78because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

79to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

God’s plan is to forgive us from our sins.

But so what?

Whist at university I was the Vice President of the Christian Union. I remember sitting down once I got home from being voted on and thinking to myself ‘woops!’. I realised that I had just signed up to be a leader. Someone who would be responsible for the spiritual direction of a group of young Christians (as 18 year old even those of us who’d been Christians since childhood weren’t exactly veterans). What did I know about being a Christian leader? I mean I was hardly a model Christian, my prayer life was woeful, my biblical knowledge was patchy to say the least. I felt really inadequate to do this job, because I just wasn’t holy enough.But you see God came to redeem his people to:

enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

I was holy enough to do the job, because God has made me holy. It’s nothing that I have done it was Jesus’ death and resurrection. That has made me holy and righteous.

Jesus died in our place, He took away our sins so that we can be presented before God as sinless. We aren’t too unholy and sinful to serve God because Jesus has sorted it.

I wonder if there is anyone reading this who is overawed by something that God is calling them to do. Is there a leadership role with your name on it that you just don’t feel like you can do? A teaching job in the church family which you know you should be doing, but those little nagging self doubts are stopping you from going forward with it. Maybe you feel drawn to be involved in the worship band, or the children’s work, but don’t think you have what it takes.

Well NEWSFLASH!!!

You are good enough to do it because God has made you good enough to do it, and he calls us to serve him without fear. Look at Zachariah. He didn’t think that he could father the messenger sent before God. But the thing is that God could do it. If he can make and old infertile couple conceive a child he can use you and he can use you and he can use me to do great things.

So what about my guitar? Shall I sell it to someone musical. No! because my father gave it to me, and it is for me to play. I may be totally inadequate to play it, I don’t deserve to play it, but I can because it was given to me as a gift. In fact I have a responsibility to play it because it is such a nice guitar.

I used that guitar to lead worship in a Christian union meeting. Afterwards oen of the more musical members of the Christian Union came up to me. He told me that it was one of the best worship sessions that he’d seen. ‘Don’t get me wrong’ he said, ‘speaking as a musician, I’ve never heard such a horrifically awful sound as long as I have lived, but as a Christian I could see that you were giving everything you had to God – and he used that’.

That’s what it’s about, if you give to God what you have, no matter how imperfect and sinful it is, then he will use it.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s