Recently, my family and I bought a house. During the day we all seem to love the house but at night my youngest son is terrified. Even though he is almost a teenager, he is afraid of what might be inthe closet. He thinks he hears noises. His fear gets the best of him and his mind play tricks on him. No matter how much I try to explain why he doesn’t need to be afraid, the fear is still there. During the first several weeks, I tried all sorts of tricks to fight the fear. I tried rationalizing it away. I tried praying it away. I tried every tip and tactic I have in my arsenal to address the fear. And nothing seemed to work.
Then after a few days in Colorado, with a group of leaders who radically love Jesus, I decided to share my experience with my son. So I pulled up a chair next to his bed and began to tell him stories about my visit. The colors! The stories! The beauty! The food! The music! Oh the music! I even played a little bit of the worship we had in the mountains together. There may have only been 18 guys in the cabin but the music was powerful.
That night my son went to sleep without incident. It worked so well, that I did it again. And then again. I have now spent the last week sitting with my son in his room sharing stories of Jesus, playing songs, and sometimes even singing with him. It is turning into a beautiful way to end the day.
What’s really intriguing to me, is that I did not do this as a tactic to fight the fear. I did it out of love. I wanted to share something special with my son. But in those moments together we are discovering the Expulsive Power Of Love. Love actually forces fear to flee. One of Jesus’ best friends once said, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
After a week of reflecting on this, I am more keenly aware of a different kind of fear that is prevalent in our culture. It is the fear that seems to worry my family, friends, and coworkers. It is the fear of “the other.” Those other guys! We are living in a polarizing time and unfortunately the fear is debilitating. Many of the people I know are clinging to stereotypes and labels of other people that keep them bound in fear.
I regularly find myself in conversations trying to fight off the fear. Even though these are adults, their fear gets the best of them. Their minds play tricks on them. No matter how much I try to explain why they don’t need to be afraid, the fear persists. I have tried every tip and tactic I have in my arsenal to address the fear. Nothing seems to work.
After my experience this last week, I am now dreaming about how much more powerful it would be to sit down and just tell great stories of these “others”. My biggest dream is to get my Christian friends together with my Muslim friends. I would love to tell stories of the many opportunities I have had to be in their homes. The beauty! The music! The stories! And the food! Wow, the food! If only you could have an opportunity to get to know my friends in the Muslim world. Or even the refugees that live down the street.
I am convinced that if Christians got to know Muslims, ate with them, spent time together with them, they would eventually fall in love with them. And that this love. His love at work through us would drive out the fear that dominates our culture.
It’s time for us to discover the expulsive power of the Father’s love.
The problem is that fear keeps us away from others. ‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor …observed that ‘the church is the church only when it exists for others’ – that is, for outsiders. This is an identity that will be difficult to live if we imagine the (others) to be aliens and strangers to our values and priorities. If we perceive the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’ as wide and essentially uncrossable, we are less likely to get close enough to offer ourselves in real relationships.” (Kinnaman & Barna – Churchless – italics added).
I am convinced that it is only through real relationships, that we can overcome our fear. Once that happens we can really make an impact in this world and in our communities.For practical next steps on how to live out this kind of love go to www.centralaz.com/golove