No More Fear

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love[a] because he first loved us.  [1 John 4:18-19]
 There is no fear in love, only boldness. But, we all live with fear. I live with fear -- so do you.  And yet, if God is love and we live in God, then fear should not define our realities.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:23:37) one who is despised/an outcast becomes the neighbor to the one who lies in the ditch. The question that we probably need to wrestle with concerns who had the most fear in this exchange.  Did the two who walked away?  Perhaps. Could it have been the one in the ditch?  Could he have feared being helped by the Samaritan?  Or the Samaritan?  I don't know for sure. But I'm sure there was fear involved.

When we are faced with change or difficult situations in life, our tendency is to react (and usually to react is to act out of fear). When faced with the unknown, we tend to view things via stereotype. And stereotype feeds fear. And as Josh Graves writes regarding Christian-Muslim relations, but I think what he writes fits other issues that face us as individuals and communities including the church: "Fear allows a toxic view of what might be to trump the beauty of what is and the life-giving potential of what could be"  (How Not to Kill a Muslim: A Manifesto of Hope for Christianity and Islam in North Americap. 3). It seems that too often in church and society everything boils down to a zero-sum game. Either you win or I win, but we can't both have some room to maneuver.

With the prospect of the Supreme Court ruling, for instance, to overturn bans on gay marriage, the church is faced with the question of how to respond. I know that in the church I serve we are struggling with this. It is creating tension. It has the potential to divide. People could walk away from the church and from each other. I pray that this won't occur. I am trying as best that I can to look at things through the lens of God's perfecting love, but I know that fear can easily gain a foothold.  What is occurring in my congregation is occurring in many others across the land.  My prayer is that we will live in love and not fear, and that this love will be the bridge across which we can cross into God's new future..


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