- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2000

In our first Scripture reading, God called Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Commentators tell us that God did this in order to test the faith of Abraham.
And when Abraham passed the test, we have that wonderful promise that because Abraham was faithful, every single nation on Earth will be blessed through him (Genesis 22:1-18).
In the Gospel (Mark 9: 2-10), we read of the Transfiguration of Jesus, and at the end of the account, the disciples talked among themselves, saying, "What does this rising from the dead mean?" God was willing to give over His only Son that we might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
Now all of us know these things, yet I wonder how many of us still walk in fear. The second reading today (Romans 8: 31-34), tells us so many things about why Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, and God was willing to sacrifice His own. "If God is for us, who can be against us," Paul's letter to the Romans says.
At another place, Scripture tells us that fear has to do with punishment. So, fear has no place in the life of a person who believes. How many of us fear God in that sense? When we think about what God has done for you and me, that He wants us to be saved, He wants us to come to the knowledge of truth. Nevertheless, we fear for our very eternal salvation.
All of us strive each day to try to put God's will into practice. All of us strive to do things like feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, even though those to whom we give food and drink are from our own household. That's OK. It's still giving food and drink to the hungry and thirst. God says, when you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.
Yet, we still continue to fear, saying to ourselves, "Will God save me or not?" Perhaps our problem is that we put that fear in the future tense. The fact is, God has already saved you and me. When we were baptized, we died with Jesus Christ and rose with Him to the fullness of life. What that means is that if Jesus Christ had not died and risen, we would still be in our sins. But we have already died and risen once with Jesus Christ.
So fear has nothing to do with the person who believes. Perhaps I err on the optimist's side. I believe that I'm saved. Yes, I have to follow the dictates of the Bible, but I am saved. If death comes to visit me today, that's OK. Because God has already saved me. It's not something in the future tense; it's in the present.
Yet so many of us err on the pessimistic side. "Does God love me?" some of you might ask. The answer is yes. He has already sent His only Son that you and I might have this life in abundance.
Do we experience life in abundance? We might not have too many material things, but life in abundance comes through Jesus Christ. How can we fear if the Son of God, who died, has risen, or as Romans says, He "rose from the dead, that you and I might have life in abundance."
When we think about God saving us, it takes place everyday of our lives. It does not only come when we die. We'll have the fullness of salvation then and, true, we can lose that gift today because we hold it in earthen vessels, our mortal lives. But still we are saved. That is what is called life with abundance. We don't have to fear anymore. We just have to put into practice what God asks us to do.
So let us not fear. Let us not be pessimistic. One who believes in Jesus Christ the Savior has to be an optimist. Despite all the evil we see around us, God holds us in the palm of his hand. Let us not fear. Fear has to do with punishment. We are saved. We experience everlasting life right now.
Knowing this, we can live a life with abundance. We can follow God and know His peace.
Next week: a sermon by the Rev. Leon Lipscomb at Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the District of Columbia.

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