I’ve been thinking today about the things I am afraid of. I am afraid of betrayal. I am afraid of being misunderstood, slandered, and accused. I am afraid of the words I write being misused, either as a tool against myself or others. I am afraid of being taken advantage of until there is nothing left of me to give. I am afraid of the conflicts in this world that target certain groups. I am afraid that war is coming to our nation and maybe our world.
I know that I should trust in God and not be afraid, but I am. I am afraid because I know what people are capable of. I am afraid because I know that even though Jesus says that the meek will inherit the earth, life has taught me that the meek get trampled. People take advantage. How should a Christian handle this?
I am reminded of this scripture:
1 John 4:15-21
15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
I was hung up at first by verse 18. Then I understood. When we know that God really loves us, there is no need for us to be afraid of His judgment. We trust in Him. There is a productive fear of the Lord, but that’s not what this is about. This is about fear of condemnation. If we know that God loves us, then we do not fear condemnation. Since we know that God first loved us, we should love God. If we love God, then we should love our brothers.
Who are our brothers?
Our brothers are fellow Christians, but what about those who have not yet converted? We cannot know which unbelievers might become brothers, so we must love our enemies also.
Why? Why should a Christian love their enemies?
If people felt real, unconditional love from us, then maybe they would be more inclined to trust in us without fear of condemnation. This creates a place of safety, allowing a person to be fully vulnerable and honest about who they are, sin and all. This provides space for preaching the gospel. If we offer people a place of unconditional love, we can lead the lost to the One who loves us: Jesus.
How can we say that we love God if we do not love others as He loves us? How can we love others as He loves us if we allow fear of what people might do keep us from loving them fully?
Do I risk being ran over by people in hopes that they might feel loved and safe so that they can face themselves honestly, repent, and turn to Jesus? Should I be afraid of being crushed by people or should I trust in the love of God towards me instead, knowing that should the worst things happen, God will raise me from the dead?
As a Christian, my first example should always be Jesus. What did He do? He chose the path of His death so that we can live. He was afraid, but He loved more. His love for the Father and love for us was stronger. Can we love Jesus as He loved us? Can we love others as Jesus loved us? Isn’t that what it means to be a Christian?
Love makes us vulnerable. Love means we can get hurt. However, if we love others more than we love ourselves, then we will endure it. We will hope for the best in all things, because we know that God is good and He loves us. He loved us enough to send His Son to die for us. We can trust in Him. He is safe, and we should be that safe place for others too—especially now in this time of fear.
Will people walk all over us? Yes. Many will. However, because we love God, we will choose love anyway. We will choose love for the sake of the fearful and confused, so that they might find peace and light in Jesus Christ.
For the sake of others and for the sake of the One who laid His life down for us, we should prepare ourselves to choose love, even if it means death for us.
I want to love like that. What a high calling that is. Maybe that is what it means to take up our cross. We cannot love so vulnerably without dying to self, because people will hurt you in this world if you love them unconditionally. However, many will not. Many will love you back, especially those who love Jesus.
We are not alone in this world of fear and hate, and we do not need to be overcome by it. This is so hard, and I know the temptation to fear is strong. I am afraid too. We need Jesus to help us love more than we fear, even if our love means our death because we know that God loved us first and through faith in Jesus we will live again.
What does it mean to love? That is another topic. Jesus shows us, and one thing Jesus said is that “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” If we love people as God loves us—as Jesus loves us—then we lay our life down for others. We lay aside our selfish desires and even our self-preservation if it means we might lead others towards Jesus, because we know that we will live again but without Jesus the world will die.
This world is dying. This nation is dying. Are we willing to lay our lives down for a nation that hates us and hates Jesus so that some might be saved? Am I ready?
We should be thinking about this strongly right now. What if our nation is consumed by violence? Do we start killing people too? Do we sin to save ourselves or others? The non-Christians can do as they please, and those who appreciate what is right will fight for what is right. However, as Christians, we do not fight against flesh and blood. We can fight with the Truth, but I’m not sure we should go beyond that.
Did the Christians of the early church fight back and kill, or were they killed themselves as they proclaimed the gospel boldly? This is a scary thing to think about, but we should.
Maybe if we show ourselves willing to lay our lives down, Jesus will give us power to defend ourselves with His Word. The apostles had power through the Word of God. Paul delivered brethren to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme. Peter spoke words of death over Ananias and Sapphira after they lied to the Holy Spirit.
There is a time for all things, but that is not the go-to way. Jesus will not give His power to those who are unable to control themselves and willing to lay their lives down when necessary as He did. That I am certain of. If we show ourselves to be lovers of self, full of fear and murder, then why should God offer any help?
If you disagree, I understand. Leave a reply if you agree or not. This is an important thing to consider in this time of fear and murder. What are your thoughts?