Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fear vs. Love

I'm going to share something that I think a lot of people may find a little radical. I beg your grace if this is against your beliefs. It comes from love, though, and it's part of my heart, so I'm going to share. //

The terrorists activities in Paris last week have set fire to all sorts of emotions around the world. (At least for 1st world nations for whom this kind of violence is not normal.) //

Terrorists use fear to advance their agenda.  They have no fear of death. In fact they embrace it.  But they use the fear of death that most of the world has to advance their agenda.

Are there any other groups of people in this world who also have no fear of death?
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Yet a lot of us struggle with the fear of death.

I think it's natural to struggle with it, but I also believe that we discover the reality of the "gain" that Paul is talking about the more we know the God who said He is love, for His Word also says:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.

Many people right now are calling for a halt to any refugees coming because of the attacks... because of the fear that a terrorist might be among these people who themselves have been terrorized. 

(There may be other reasons for wanting to keep any refugees from coming, and I do not feel qualified to address those. Nor am I addressing the government's perspective which may have valid reasons for being different than an individual.  I am only thinking about the fear in individuals... the fear that letting refugees in might let terrorists in.)

That fear is very understandable. It's natural to not want your loved ones to not get blown up.

And yet as a Christian, I think of a parable Jesus told:
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?
38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
He goes on to say:
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’

44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [e]take care of You?’

45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
He didn't specify whether these least brothers of His were terrorists or Muslims or Christians or Jews or atheists.

I come from an international family. I have first-generation immigrants in my family, family members from almost every continent on earth (no Australians yet) and speaking multiple languages (including Arabic). I also have a very dear cousin who lives in a suburb of Paris and works near the Eiffel Tower. I can't help thinking of her precious little ones.

Maybe that has influenced my perspective. But on the other hand, perhaps the Bible has influenced my perspective.

Let's say the fearful are right.  Say that we invite Christian and Muslim refugees into our towns and cities, and one of them is a terrorist who blows himself up next to us while we're in the grocery store.

Are there any verses where God said "Depart!" to those who were killed by terrorists?

I can't find any.  Although the Bible says this:
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; [a]though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And this:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it..
It seems to me that God calls His people to something greater than safety. (Again, I am speaking of individual Christians. God does call people to jobs that focus on keeping others safe, and I believe God blesses their efforts to do their jobs well.)

For the record, the same verses also apply to helping American homeless, and hungry Veterans, and many others who need help and frequently aren't getting it.

I don't know what is coming in our future.  We might very well have to learn to live with fear in a way that we have not for several generations.

My aunt stated it so eloquently:
[People] are afraid and angry. I understand that. I'm afraid too for my cherished daughter who works in Paris near the Eiffel Tower. But she believes in supporting a better life for people fleeing oppression. And I agree with her. I can live with fear and love.

God also told his people:
"You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."

What choices will Christians make in the months and years ahead?

Can we dare to love in the face of terror?

Can we, like Christ, love people "even while they are yet sinners."

As for me... I'm thinking about that day when I stand before God.  I'd rather Him welcome me because I was killed by a terrorist than hear Him tell me to depart because I would not help people who needed it.  Especially when many of them are running from those same terrorists.

This is what heroes are made of... those who pause in their efforts to gain safety themselves, in order to turn around and lend a helping hand to those who are behind them.

This is love.

From Ann Voskamp if you need more encouragement from a more eloquent writer than I:

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