Yesterday, I had the great honor and privilege of preaching before the Georgia State Senate. Given the fact that the State of Georgia has recently been in the news on account of Governor Nathan Deal’s opposition to bill HB 757–a religious liberty bill that would protect religious organizations and ministers from unlawful discrimination lawsuits–I had to prayerfully fight back the fear of man concerning what I believe the Lord wanted me to say. Behind Deal’s strident opposition is the prospect of powerful corporations and the film industry pulling out of the State. After all, in politics, money is Caesar.
As I walked from my hotel to the Capitol building, I remembered that it was March 15th–or, as it is more aptly called, the Ides of March. The thought quickly and almost imperceptibly passed through my mind: “There is an Ides of March for every Caesar.” It seemed to coalesce so nicely with what I had already planned on saying.
While I was waiting to speak, I watched as the room filled. I began to get somewhat nervous. I recognized that I was beginning to fear man. Every believer still has the remnants of this evil in his or her soul. It was on account of this that the Lord had to tell Jeremiah, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you” (Jer. 1:8). He had to charge Isaiah to “stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he” (Is. 2:22)? There’s something so wonderfully calming about remembering the fact that no matter how powerful a position a man or woman may hold, God “holds their breath in His hands and owns all their ways” (Dan. 5:23) and that “death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” (Eccl. 7:2).
That’s the point of the Ides of March, isn’t it? Caesar could garner so much power, but in the end he was assassinated. No matter how powerful a person or corporation may be, there will be an end to their reign and their influence. By way of contrast, the Lord is the everlasting God. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who has the power of an endless life.
Remembering the frailty and fallenness of all men is a crucial part of gaining wisdom. Solomon captured this so well when he wrote “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10) but “the fear of man is a snare” (29:25).
When it was time to speak, I read Colossians 1:16-17:
By Jesus Christ all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Being able to declare to a room full of political leaders that Jesus Christ is above all “thrones or dominions or principalities or powers,” was certainly one of the most enthralling experiences I’ve ever had in ministry.
I moved from Colossians 1:16-17 to Colossians 2:3. I’ve always loved the thought that the Christ, who has created all thrones and dominions–who is before all things in and whom all things hold together–is the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Matthew Henry once famously remarked, “The treasures of wisdom are hidden not from us, but for us, in Christ.”
Finally, I sought to bring the contrast between “the fear of man” and “the fear of the Lord” to bear in application, when I said:
“There is an Ides of March for every Caesar. There is an Ides of March for every powerful corporation. When we come to Jesus Christ for wisdom, we don’t need to fear powerful individuals, we don’t need to fear powerful corporations; we only need to fear the King of Kings and Lord or Lords to whom we must all give account. We don’t need to fear what Fox News or MSNBC thinks about us; we only need to fear the One who holds our breathe in His hands and owns all our ways. In His word we have everything necessary for the difficult and challenging moments of our life. We must learn to fear the One who has power over life and death.”
March 15, 2016 will always be a memorable day to me. I woke this morning to ask the Lord to use what was said in the lives of those who heard. However, whatever His plan may be, of this much I am sure, I need to be reminded–on a daily basis–that I don’t need to fear man whose breathe is in his nostril. There is an Ides of March for every Caesar and an Ides of March for every corporation. What glorious freedom comes when our hearts rest in the One who is over all thrones and dominions, who holds every man’s breath in His hand (Dan. 5:23) and who is the infinite source of wisdom and knowledge for those of us who come to Him in faith and repentance.