No longer a slave

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

10 thoughts on “No longer a slave

  1. Lucinda J

    This is something I have thought quite a bit about too. Not in connection with immigration. But in connection with conservatives, yes. Thank you for these thoughts.


    1. Yes, fear affects many areas of our lives, including our churches. My intention is not to degrade any person or church, but to show fear for what it really is, and to call us back to the radical love that Jesus modeled for us.


  2. Ruth Anna

    “Why should we fear….when God offers us power to bring about change by loving….”??? I love this. This phrase also helped to guide my thoughts…lately I’ve been reading some blog posts about refugees, and I wonder what I can do to help? Housing? Finances? Appeal to Trump? =) None of these seem like suitable options for me. It’s easy for me to think, “Well, I can’t do anything anyway, so…..” But this comment about loving got me thinking. No, I can’t give large amounts of money to help the refugee situation, but I can love on that neglected child in my classroom; the dramatic child, the obnoxious child, the slow-poke, etc. No, I’m not changing the world by cleaning yet another bloodied knee, but as has been said, “It’s love that makes the word go ’round”. Hmm…you are getting some of my raw processings here….what am I missing? How should I be thinking about this? Thanks for sharing!


    1. Ruth Anna, you echoed so many of my own thoughts! We live in a very white, Republican, small Kansas town, with hardly any ethnic diversity, let alone refugees. At this point about all I can do is pray and give some money (and there’s not a lot of that to go around). I’m still thinking over all this, but I think our attitude toward anyone needy and/or unlovable is hugely important. The ways we cultivate love in our daily lives will influence the ways we react to people on a larger scale. So if I am fearful about interacting with the people on my street, how do I expect to be brave in relating to refugees or terrorists?

      You are doing so much by being teacher. Teaching is a life of sacrifice. I’m not so sure that you aren’t changing the world by cleaning that bloodied knee. 😉


      1. Ruth Anna

        O it’s so good to hear your thoughts! I briefly thought about posting and saying that it sounds like I missed the whole point of your post 🙂 but that thought on loving was so significant for me. So I’m glad to know I wasn’t way off. 🙂 yes attitude is so huge….thanks again for sharing!


  3. Pingback: Ordinary Families Can Foster – arabah rejoice

  4. Cindi

    I realize I’m commenting a bit late but I saw the link to this post on the one about fostering. It reminds me of a quote by Mother Theresa I read recently, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” For someone who dreamed of being a missionary to India from childhood and then having God change the direction of my life by giving me my other dream of having a husband and family, this quote has been a burden lifter. I struggled with a lot of guilt that I had taken the easy way when I first got married. I realize now that there is a very important place to fill on the home front as well as in more visible places. Prayer being one important area that we often think is an unimpressive role. That can be done while rocking babies and potty training toddlers. We are training compassionate adults by reading stories about those who have less than we do and discussing the needs around us as well as giving to those needs instead of getting everything we want.


    1. You are right. Training these little people is a big job, and helping them see that the world is bigger than their wants is a big step toward raising empathetic and caring children.


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