As I mull over the mixed response of God’s people to the needs of refugees, immigrants, and terrorists, I realize that the surface disunity is but a symptom of a much deeper malady.
This malady is the terrible disease of fear. Fear has been coddled in many conservative churches for years in the name of “keeping our children safe” and “staying on the narrow path,” and the current events are merely pushing the infestation to the surface. It is a sickness and a slavery.
We may be keeping our families safe from something, but we aren’t keeping them safe from fear. We might be on a narrow path, but I don’t think it is the narrow path that leads to holiness.
Why do I say that? The basis of the Good News is that God’s love is for everyone. Yet so many of us cannot agree to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), to welcome the stranger (Heb. 13:1), and to feed the hungry (Matt. 25:35). We are coming up with every conceivable excuse not to do so. We are writing in exception clauses to keep our lives comfortable.
We are trying to save our lives, and are losing them in the process (Mark 8:35).
We ask the age-old question, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25-37) and pretend not to notice when Jesus says, “Your neighbor is the person you find hardest to love.”
So many pseudonyms for fear float around us. “Wisdom” “Responsibility.” “Protection.” Why don’t we call it the ugly thing it is–fear? Why don’t we go out and do the hard things that Jesus asks of His disciples?
I’m not trying to imply that you need to fulfill every single need in the universe. You can’t. But you can stop being afraid of the work of living out the Gospel in our world today. You don’t need to do everything, but you do need to do something. And that something has to be bigger than a flea-bite of inconvenience.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (I John 4:8).
One person’s job might be to provide finances or housing for refugees. Another person’s work might be to feed the hungry neighbor boy evenings after school. Someone else may need to give a lonely foster child a secure home. The beauty of Christ’s body is its working together to accomplish a whole, the combining of efforts to weave the fabric of a loving Christ-centered community.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
I John 3:17 (ESV)
Why should we fear, when God offers us power to show mercy, power to bring about change by loving, power to push back the forces of darkness?
Why should we return to slavery?
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:15 (ESV)
If we cry out to our Abba Father, His unfailing love will overwhelm us. His love will perfect us. His love will split the shackles of our fear.
How does being perfected in love enable you to let go of your fears? I John 4:18