International leader of The Salvation Army, General Brian Peddle, uses his 2019 Easter message to reflect on numerous biblical imperatives to ‘not be afraid’.
At a time when world events include natural disasters which cause understandable trepidation and terrorist attacks which are intended to engender fear, the General’s message observes that ‘often that fear is accompanied by anxiety’, yet Scripture is ‘inviting us to move from a place of fear to a position where we implicitly trust … God who never fails’.
The video message – available in full on the General’s Facebook page and in HD at sar.my/afraid – considers Matthew’s account of Easter’s Resurrection morning. The General recalls that ‘the first words of the angel at the tomb are: “Do not be afraid” … [and] just a few verses later, the women meet Jesus and his first words are: “Do not be afraid”.’
Using examples of similar phrasing from the Old and New Testaments – from Moses to John’s vision of Jesus in Revelation – the General notes that ‘what we’re seeing here is that throughout Scripture God says to us: “Do not be afraid.” … and that it seems clear to me that God is inviting us to move from a place of fear to a position where we implicitly trust this “immeasurably more” God who never fails.
‘These words from God are not just trite advice,’ says the General. ‘For those who know God and share life with him there is no need to be afraid, because God has overcome the world, defeated sin on the Cross and conquered death – as revealed by the empty tomb!
‘We also should remember that God is not a distant, powerful deity at some length from us; he is an ever-present God who seeks to live with and in his people. We need to couple the instruction of “Do not be afraid” with the recurring promise we read: “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.’
Perfect love drives out fear
The General continues: ‘When fear takes hold, we should remember not only the omnipotence – the all-powerfulness – of God; we should remember that he is right with us, beside us and in us. God’s perfect love “drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).’
The message concludes with encouragement to trust in the God ‘who broke the power of sin on the Cross’, and ‘who conquered death and promises eternal life’.
‘Do not be afraid,’ says the General. ‘Our God is victorious, and he invites us to share in his victory! May God bless you this Easter.’
Call to Mission
Following a nine-week devotional series on the General’s Facebook page, three sermons have been recorded by General Peddle offering Salvationists and friends an opportunity to explore in more depth the theological and doctrinal basis of his new Call to Mission.
‘This call which God has placed on my heart is not only a call to me. It is a call for the whole Salvation Army,’ says the General. ‘It needs to rest with and be responded to by every officer, soldier, adherent and junior soldier; as well as every employee and volunteer. Everything we do should fulfil the sacred mission that God has given his Salvation Army.’
The three sermons – ‘Be Ready’, ‘Be Engaged’ and ‘Take Responsibility’ – can each be watched online or downloaded for offline viewing. They are available via the International Headquarters Vimeo channel and at sar.my/calltomission.