Friday, June 19, 2009

Not to Fear is the Armor

On October 28, 1523, the third day of the Second Disputation in Zurich, Ulrich Zwingli preached a famous sermon on The Shepherd (Der Hirt, published in 1524), describing both the true and false shepherd, or pastor. On the occasion of this sermon, it is said that nine hundred auditors were present, including three hundred fifty priests. Within the portrait he sketched of the faithful minister is an encouragement for him to put on the true armor of God, as described in Ephesians 6. In his day, the Reformation was just beginning, and the fires of persecution were hot. But his counsel is certainly applicable today to Christian pastors and laymen alike when we struggle with fear in the face of affliction, difficulty, persecution and challenges to our faith. Hear the great warrior-shepherd himself:

Not to fear is the armor. So now you want to say: I would without doubt certainly know even if Christ had not said so, that is, where I do not fear anything, there I would attack all things bravely. If it were given to me not to fear then I would stand steadfast, but not if I am only told not to be afraid. Therefore Christ shows us how to attain the point that we are without fear in John 16:33: “These things have I spoken to you that you have peace in me. You will have anxiety or affliction in the world; but do not be afraid, for I have overcome the world.” Here we see the pioneer, Christ. He calls us to be untroubled and to go forward in his work, although at the same time we are faced with affliction. The world cannot do anything different to the shepherd. But herein lies our certain comfort, that he is the victor over the world. And if we are his loyal servants, then he will also overcome these afflictions for us. Therefore we should now be joyous.

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