When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." John 20:19 NRSV
At the risk of having an anti-Semitic sounding title, I would like to point out that "fear of the Jews" occurs three times in the gospel of John. This is significant because it makes us aware of the tension that existed between the followers of The Way and the traditional Israelites. There was real fear that believing in Jesus would get you kicked out of the synagogue - and being exiled from that community was a scary thought. I also wonder if there was not also a fear of the Romans who would also bring down dire consequences on those who refused to worship Caesar. So, no matter where a person originated, believing in Christ would most likely bring about some kind of punishment or exclusion.
In this instance, wouldn't fear be the motivation to not believe in Christ? This is less about fearing God and more about fearing others. The doors are shut and we are locked in because we fear others outside our doors.
I think this same type of fear prevents us from reaching out to our communities - whether in service or in evangelism. We are afraid of being hurt, afraid of being rejected, and afraid of change. So, we keep the doors closed and locked.
Thank goodness Jesus shows up in our midst, giving us the Holy Spirit, and sending us out into the world.
Thank you, God, that fear will not keep us from going out into the world in Your name. Amen.
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims