Fearless Small Group Discussion Guide
by Max Lucado
FEARLESS In what ways are fear and happiness able (or unable) to coexist?
IMAGINE YOUR LIFE WITHOUT FEAR
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE
by Max Lucado
For god has not given us a spirit of fear.
2 Timothy 1:7
Why Are We Afraid?
Read Chapter 1 from Fearless before you meet this week.
Fear has touched every one of us in some way—whether it has entangled us or completely enchained us. But how we respond to fear, and whom we turn to for a way out, is what matters more than anything. Will your fear leave you embittered or awestruck? This week’s discussion will inspire us to live in awe of Christ, who refused to let fear have any hold on his life—and who wants the same thing for you.
Answer the questions in this section before you meet this week.
Oversized and rude, fear is unwilling to share the heart with happiness. Happiness complies. Do you ever see the two together? Can one be happy and afraid at the same time? Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud, and unproductive. Despite all the noise fear makes and all the room it takes, fear does little good. It’s not creative or productive, yet we allow it so much control over our lives. Happiness would be a much better companion.
Matthew remembered the pouncing tempest and bouncing boat and was careful in his terminology when he wrote his gospel. This storm was a seismos—“a trembling eruption of sea and sky.” This word is only used two other times—at Jesus’ death and at his resurrection. Apparently, the stilled storm shares equal billing in the trilogy of Jesus’ great shake-ups. In these moments of seismos God reveals something about his character to our fearful souls.
Meditate on these three events and the connection Matthew makes. What is the significance of using the same word at all three instances? What do we learn about God in each story? The story of the disciples on the boat ends with the not so subtle and not-too-popular reminder: getting on board with Christ can mean getting soaked with Christ. Disciples can expect rough seas and stout winds. Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addiction, and, as a result, face fears. Why is life filled with trouble for Christians? What makes pain and anguish different for Christians? Write a brief sentence about how each of these verses has been true (or not true) in your experience. Matthew 9:2: “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven” (nasb). Luke 12:32: “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 8:50: “Don’t be afraid. Just believe, and your daughter will be well” (ncv). Matthew 24:6: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed” (niv).
Engage in conversation about these questions within your small group.
You may not be down to your final heartbeat, but you may be down to your last paycheck, solution, or thimble of faith. Each sunrise seems to bring fresh reasons for fear. Each of us can find reasons to be afraid, no matter how “good” our life is—no one is immune to fear.
What causes your heartbeat to race, your palms to sweat? What makes you afraid? Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult with or cower to their timidities did that. When, in your experience, has courage overcome fear to accomplish something good? We hope for an easy ride through life once we meet Christ, smooth sailing on a crystal clear sea. But storms rise up. None of us can escape this inevitable fact—whether we are Christ followers or not. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ. He handles our great quakings with a great calming. Describe a time when your life was in chaos, but you could clearly see that Jesus was unstirred by the storm. As the waves rocked and shook the boat, the disciples screamed and Jesus dreamed. He rested his head not on a fluffy feather pillow but on a leather sandbag. A ballast bag. This was a premeditated slumber. In full knowledge of the coming storm, Jesus decided it was siesta time, so he crawled to the corner, put his head on the pillow, and drifted into dreamland. Have you ever felt that Jesus was sleeping through the storms in your life? How did you respond—in anger, in frustration, in hurt, or with understanding? Does it bring you comfort to know that this reaction is intentional on his part, not accidental or ignorant? If not, how does it make you feel?
Fear feels dreadful. It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state, and drains us dry of contentment. We become abandoned barns, rickety and tilting from the winds, a place where humanity used to eat, thrive, and find warmth. No longer. When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life. Can the safety lover do anything great? Can the risk-averse accomplish noble deeds? For God? For others? Think about the description of a fear-laden person as an “abandoned barn.” Give another illustration of how you feel when fear invades your life on a daily, even hourly, basis. To what extent is it okay to pay attention to concerns of safety? Describe the point at which sensible caution becomes worship of a risk-free life.
The disciples on the storm-tossed boat on the Sea of Galilee marveled at Jesus’ power. What kind of man is this? they thought. And likewise, I wondered at my dad’s calm when the Wolf Man lurked behind the couch in my living room when I was six years old. A loving Father, God handles our great storms with great calm. In what ways have your encounters with fear increased your awe of God? Describe a time when Jesus spoke to the storm in your life, and the winds calmed and the waves stilled.
Over the course of the next week, remind yourself of God’s track record in your life. Journal in the space provided about the times he has calmed the storms in your life. When you find yourself struggling against fear, pull this list out and remind yourself that God is capable.
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”