The choice of Christ followers to not live out the love they profess is the beginning of a hopeless world. At least I think so.
But what drives this? Why don’t people live out the love they are so willing to profess? The faith they so clearly claim as an identity?
While not the only answer I think a lot more than we’d expect is fear.
Fear is so insidious. It hides and disguises itself. Wraps itself up in noble language and ideals like protection, truth, responsibility, etc. none bad, but the more I listen and the more I ask, the more I begin to hear fear come to the surface. The more I hear it’s fear not just leading our choices, but leading our faith. Our collective inability to see the fear motivating our theology, our standing for truth, or call for responsibility that pulls us further and further from Christ. It’s hidden deep in there, our fear is, slowly tell and affirming that it’s way is best.
We know and affirm that our motives should be love, our motives should be Jesus when we claim the identity of Christian. But it’s just not always as easy as we wish it was to see when fear is pulling the strings.
When we move form a place of love not fear we see Jesus. People see Jesus in us. We have the answer in us.
Yes its scary. And I do understand what it means to say we’re scared. What it means to dive past the words “I’m scared but I trust God” and actually look at our fear. Look at how we don’t trust God. Look at how we don’t see God as enough.
You are not a bad Christian because you have fear. It’s not an indictment of your faith as much as it affirms your human. Of all our fears we can’t be afraid of our fear. Afraid to see it, name it, ask for help with it.
God shows up in people, in relationships. Jesus is in the trembling, wordless coffee with a friend when we feel at a loss. Its part of the mysterious and wonderful reality of who God is that when we break, when we have no more, and do it in community he is there. When we no longer allow fear to cripple us but to share in safe and loving relationships God can begin to work on our fear.
While we may feel fear, we can still choose to move out of love.
It’s why community is so important. Community that can see us, as we are, no masks. Community that can speak into us and we will listen. Community rooted in the realities of Christ.
Rather than find ways and times when we can say “love our enemy but…” or “do not resist an evil doer, expect when…” as a church we’d do well to wrestle with these most difficult and compelling calls to radical love. How do we do that in the most extreme situations or do we actually believe that living like Christ doesn’t work when it life is its’ most dire. How do we love when fear is so present? So real?
Many feel like life is getting dire.
The reality of that can be debated but the feeling is there. The fear is real for many.
Fear of losing our identity.
Fear of change.
Fear that things won’t be the same again.
Fear that maybe we were wrong.
Fear that things aren’t certain any more.
Fear that what we value won’t be valued anymore.
Fear that we won’t be valued anymore.
And that fear can manifest itself in so many ways.
Maybe it looks like anger or hate. I think so much of what we are seeing is fear. Its fear that is driving the rhetoric of hate. Fear that our communities, neighbourhoods, schools won’t be safe. And we are lashing out in anger.
Our response, however, no matter how fear is manifesting doesn’t change. Love still works.
We need to speak out. We can’t be silent in the face of evil in our community. We need to defend those around us that the communities we have influence in fear. We need to share the voices of the oppressed and call those near us to listen.
Love is disarming. Love allows us to see not just the person we are defending as valuable but the person we are defending them from.
When it’s love as our motive, not truth or rightness or history or safety even we will see really change. Because in those moments we aren’t just sharing an idea, something that we hope will work, the next fad or band-aid solution.
We are sharing Jesus.
We have an answer.
We choose to love even when we’re afraid to do so.