Jesus said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went with Him…John 1:39
I am going to construct this post around a quote from the article our HMPC men’s group discussed this past Thursday evening. The idea presented is not a new one to me, but the particular way it is framed is spot on in terms of representing one of the defining principles that guides the way Rebekah and I engage with the world.
First the quote; then the commentary. Writer Lisa Wells attributes the following words to Ann, a principal character in her excellent article about understanding life in terms of pilgrimage:
When Jesus says, “Do not be afraid!” – his (and the Father’s) most common words of encouragement – he is talking about the great invitation to live, to embrace the gift of abundant life; and, by extension, it’s an invitation to trust God more.
There is a false narrative that claims fear keeps us safe, that fear prevents us from doing what is reckless or dangerous. What keeps us out of trouble, however, is not fear so much as prudence or caution.
Fear does not save us, instead it stops us from living! Fear is a weapon deployed by The Deceiver, designed to keep people from experiencing the joy and the fullness that comes with placing our trust in God, and living what Peter described as, “The life that is truly life.”
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.1 Timothy 6:18-19
This is why I appreciate the idea that experience essentially displaces fear. This is what Mark Twain was getting at when he suggested that travel is the great antidote for ignorance and what it leads to.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.Mark Twain
Likewise the disciple John (1 John 4:18) was on to something when he wrote about fear two thousand years ago. He insisted that fear is essentially the opposite of active love – “Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear…”
So we need not be afraid of fear but instead we must elbow fear out of the way by trusting God enough to truly live, and to live into God’s promises with purpose and with love.
And then, as fear is nullified, ignorance and bigotry and hate and narrow-mindedness are also starved because fear is their fuel.
I am convinced that fear is the root cause of much of what is troubling America today. Think of it this way: if a politician or a preacher or an opinionated acquaintance is trying to manipulate your fears, or fan the flame of fear, then they are standing squarely on the wrong side of God’s Good Word.
The gospel tells us to deal with our fear by living abundantly, not reticently, and by trusting God. Jesus offers us this invitation to live love out loud, and to love with such conviction and such purpose that there is no more room for fear.
I know that I wandered around a long way from the quote that anchored this piece! But I am quite passionate about this subject, and I am increasingly worried that fear, rather than love, seems to be steering the trajectory of our social discourse.
In love, and because love has both the means and the power – DEREK