The landscape of the Body of Christ is littered with examples of the consequences of fear. In some cases, fear can cause us to fight with those closest to us—whether our family members, friends, our spouse, or others in the Body of Christ. We can fear people with different opinions or who do things differently than we do. We fear those with different backgrounds or perspectives. In some cases we fight and other times we just run away from our fears.

Recently I sat with an older mentor friend and his wife. He was going through a very scary health issue. He and his wife are people of deep faith and courage and, at the same time, they were scared and the possibility of a very different future was staring them in the face.

In the Gospel of Mark, we see a situation where Jesus reveals how often fear reveals a lack of faith in our lives. In the early days of His ministry, Jesus took His disciples on a field trip across the Sea of Galilee. In the midst of their journey, a great squall came up that nearly swamped the boat. The disciples, some of whom were seasoned fishermen, were terrified and cried out to Jesus—who was sound asleep in the storm!

When Jesus was still a newborn, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to present Him to the Lord and to make a sacrifice. While they were there, they met two very interesting people: Simeon and Anna. To me, what makes these two so interesting is their willingness to listen to what God told them and to obey—even though it was very uncomfortable to do so.

In our last post, we learned how Mary, Jesus’ mother, had good ears, was ready to hear, and receive what God had to say. You might say, “Well, it’s pretty easy to hear God, listen, and receive what He has to say if an angel shows up and delivers the message!” That may make sense, but we have a pretty profound example of the opposite in the Christmas story.

When we consider the heroes of the Christmas story, the most exemplary has got to be Mary, the unwed, pregnant teen. In the account found in Luke 1:26-38 MSG, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee. He had a message for her. You would think that his first words—“Good morning! You're beautiful with God's beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you” (Luke 1:28 MSG) would be received happily! But Mary was not so sure. She was troubled and wondered what that could possibly mean!

We live in a culture where fast, big, and strong are values that have risen to the point of addiction … and exhaustion! When we are wearing the correct spiritual “lens,” small wins over large. Slow wins over fast. Weak wins over strong. So what is the engine that pushes us toward big, fast, and powerful?

Imagine what life might have been like 200 years ago, well before the industrial revolution or the tech revolution. There was no drone of the air conditioner, roar of jets passing overhead, scream of cars, chatter of the television or radio, or electronic jingle of Blackberrys or iPhone alerting us to a text, voicemail, or email. All these noises and prompts add to our daily stress and it is difficult to filter them out or set boundaries to protect our hearts (yes, our hearts).

I am a very active person. To be quite honest, it takes a great deal of discipline for me to slow down and get out of the traffic and crowds of life … and the world we live in doesn’t seem to help! It has become loud and noisy. Have you noticed how hard it is to find a sliver of quiet in an otherwise sound-filled world?

We’ve had numerous friends get laser eye surgery. Most are very happy to leave the days of glasses or contact lenses behind! Especially, those who had horrible eyesight. But imagine living life out of focus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no activity, relationship, or situation that is not impacted by our eyesight. The same is true of our spiritual “eyesight.” My view of God, myself, my friends, life’s difficulties—so many things—are either filled with Kingdom light or are darkened by wrong thinking.