In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul said: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (II Corinthians 12:9-10) What I love about Paul is that he does not just preach this he lives it and Acts 21 proves it. Luke begins the chapter by describing their voyage toward Jerusalem and it is in Caesarea that we see the first sign of the strength that Paul received through his faith in Christ. After arriving in Philip’s house he is visited by a prophet who indicates that if Paul goes to Jerusalem he will be handed over to the Gentiles. Paul is undaunted, he says: “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (21:13) They then arrive in Jerusalem and, despite their best efforts to keep Paul away from trouble, he is captured by Jews who believe that he has defiled the Temple. Here again, Paul does not cave into fear, he says to the Roman Soldier ‘hey, I’m a Roman citizen, do me a favor and let me speak to the crowd.’ This is the same crowd that wants to ‘get rid of him.’ This takes a tremendous amount of courage, which takes faith.
So the question for me is do I have the same amount of faith? Are you kidding, I have a hard time getting over the fear of my car breaking down. I realize, however, through Paul’s example, a sort of spiritual equation. The more faith I have = the less fear I have. Ok, so I got that, but the next question is how do I increase my faith? I believe that this is developed over time through some work. I have to develop a very strong prayer life. I have to attend a church, not because my mommy said, but because it will put me in close proximity to those who have or are developing a relationship with Christ. It is this relationship that is, for me the most important thing. This, then, begs another question: how do I develop this relationship with Christ? Well, what does Jesus actually say? In Matthew 25:40 he says: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ He also says(Mat. 25:35-36) “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” This relationship, to me, is developed by helping these least of my brothers and sisters. Interestingly, when I do this I get out of myself and my fear abates. So, the equation gets slightly more complicated: The more I give back to my fellow humans=more faith=less fear.