67 The Holy Spirit came upon Zechariah, and he began to speak:
68 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel! He has come to save his people.
69 Our God has given us a mighty Savior from the family of David his servant.
70 Long ago the Lord promised by the words of his holy prophets 71 to save us from our enemies and from everyone who hates us.
72 God said he would be kind to our people and keep his sacred promise.
73 He told our ancestor Abraham 74 that he would rescue us from our enemies. Then we could serve him without fear 75 by being holy and good as long as we live.
76 You, my son, will be called a prophet of God in heaven above. You will go ahead of the Lord to get everything ready for him.
77 You will tell his people that they can be saved when their sins are forgiven.
78 God’s love and kindness will shine upon us like the sun that rises in the sky.
79 On us who live in the dark shadow of death this light will shine to guide us into a life of peace.
80 As John grew up, God’s Spirit gave him great power. John lived in the desert until the time he was sent to the people of Israel.
Serving Without Fear
Do you ever feel like you’re doing the things you’re doing because you’re afraid? Have you ever done things at church or at home or in the community just to try to keep people (or God) from being mad at you?
But what if we didn’t have to be afraid of God, and we didn’t have to be afraid of other people?
What if we could be saved from this kind of broken, fear-based way of living, and freed from the constant negativity that comes from knowing the depth of our own brokenness without any way of solving it? What if love and kindness, light and peace could take over?
“Perfect Love Drives Out Fear”
I’ve been learning this year that there is fear, and there is love. And “perfect love drives out fear”. (1 John 4:18) When I live out of fear it breaks even the best of my intentions – it makes me a lousy mama, and a lousy wife, and a lousy friend, and a lousy me. It leaves me feeling burdened and broken and exhausted and taken advantage of.
But when I ask myself, ‘what would love do?’ it changes everything.
Love cares for my kids, but doesn’t worry incessantly about every little emotional swing my teens take, it turns out!
Love cares about my husband, but doesn’t assume that just because something’s upsetting him that it’s my responsibility to fix it.
Love cares about my friends, but knows that I can’t force myself in to the places in their lives I’m worried about until those are places they’re willing to go.
And love, it turns out, also cares about me, and knows that if I don’t take time to care for me and root myself in the knowledge that God loves me, I won’t have anything to offer to anyone else!
Nothing To Fear
This is the life-changing promise that Zechariah speaks of through the power of the Holy Spirit: that a time is coming – a time has come – when we don’t have to live our lives out of fear, but have the opportunity to live out of love and kindness and light and peace, then all of a sudden everything changes!
These are exciting ideas! They’re so exciting that I imagine Zechariah’s words almost tumbling out of his mouth in a rush. And I wonder as John grew up how often Zechariah repeated these words to his son. “This is what you were born for, son!” “This is your purpose in life!” “You are loved, you are chosen, you have nothing to fear!”
By the time we meet John again he is just getting on with the task he’s been given of preparing the people to meet Jesus. He’s not trying to be someone he isn’t. He’s not trying to do something he doesn’t know how to do. He’s simply serving without fear.
- Have you ever thought about whether you do things out of fear or out of love?
- Could you write down two or three things that you are doing out of fear currently?
- How would love respond differently in those areas of life?
- How do you feel about the idea that you could live out of love instead of out of fear?
- Mary and Zechariah both responded with poetic speeches to the exciting news that a new way of living was coming. How will you respond? You might write a song or poem, make some art, write in a journal, make a meal of thanksgiving, or sit by the waterfront in quiet appreciation.
- Whatever you choose to do, it would be awesome if you would share your response with someone – a friend or family member, on the Vox Ladies’ or Vox Men’s group, or one-on-one with someone from Vox. Who knows, maybe they haven’t heard the news yet?
You can find more studies in the book of Luke on our website here.