Living in faith, not fear

April 6, 2020 by Rev. Amantha Barbee

Lectionary Preview for May 3, 2020: 1 Peter 2:19-25

For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.     

We are at a crossroad in society. Many are living in fear of death. Many are living in fear of illness for self or a loved one.

I wonder how many are living in faith. Yes, indeed we are suffering. We are suffering in a way that many of us have never seen and will never see again, perhaps. Yet and still, we are called upon as Christians to follow that example as set forth by Christ in 1 Peter. We are having an internal conversation about our health, even if we are totally healthy. We are asking the question, “will I suffer?” We can’t really lash out at anyone because we really don’t know from where our issues have come.

How does this translate to living in righteousness? How can we earnestly pull from Jesus’ wounds when we may well have wounds of our own? How do we show God that we still have faith, even in our suffering?

Jesus allowed himself to be ostracized. Jesus allowed himself to be hanged. Jesus allowed himself to die. Our ‘resurrectional’ and defensive minds automatically go to, “well he got up.” Where is our faith? We were baptized into Jesus’ resurrection. If we truly believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, we too will get up. Sickness and disease do not have the final say.

Our righteousness leans into the issues at hand and we as good Christians keep our promises to God. To be sure, we expect God to keep God’s promises. Why would we waiver if we truly have faith? We have promised to tithe a certain amount. Keep your promise. We have promised to give a certain amount of time. It may look different but keep your promise. We have promised to be our sibling’s keeper. Keep your promise. It is after we have kept our part of the covenant can we go to Creator God and cry out for help. Our first cry may just be to help our unbelief.

We are living in an uncertain time now but like Jesus we must entrust ourselves to the one who judges justly. It is not a secret that we live in an unjust world. We cannot depend on principalities. We are a people of hope, a people of perseverance, a people of joy, a people of celebration, a people of righteousness, a people of trust, a people of faith, a people of love, a people of God.

Rev. Amantha Barbee serves as Senior Pastor of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. She holds a Master of Divinity from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va., where she earned the E.T. George Award for Excellence in Homiletics and Worship. Rev. Barbee worked in corporate sales for over 10 years before heeding the call to ministry, then served as a program director in an area women’s homeless center. She previously served as pastor at Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC, from 2011 to 2019, and is currently working on her doctoral degree at Columbia Theological Seminary. She is a native of Charlotte.