THIS. This is everything. If I could think of one word that could encompass a entire universe of hate, violence, and suffering, this one word, the word fear, would be on top of the list.
If love is the antithesis to fear than fear must be the underlying current of hate. We hate because we fear that the differences of others will hurt us in some way. We hate because we fear the pain that rejection will bring. We hate because we fear others already see us as inferior. We hate because we fear the success of others and fear our own failures. We hate because we fear we will never receive or accomplish the things others have that we want. We hate because we fear we’re unworthy of anything greater.
1 John 18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not be perfected in love.”
Who would know the answer to it all would be something as simple as loving our neighbor as ourselves? And that answer isn’t for those other people that caused the hurt, that answer is for us. We are not to wait for the people who aren’t loving us the way we want to be loved to change. We are to love them first. We are not to wait for the bosses, the grumpy neighbors, the poor leadership in our country to change, we change. How do we change and how do we love?
We love because he first loved us. When we abide in Jesus we can have that love that loves the hard things. The love that breaks through already broken hearts and relationships. The love that pushes through fears of rejection and disagreements and diversity. And then we act out that love.
We pray for our enemies. We speak and act out random acts of kindness. We choose to befriend each other in spite of differences. We may not agree with decisions or viewpoints, politics, lifestyles, or religions, but we invite open conversations to understand and to accept each other for and in our humanity. We have a gentle answer for the wrath.
We stand up for injustices, but our shouts are not reciprocated vengeance, they’re stands for love in a spirit of love to educate and share our viewpoints, and to mourn. Mourn the learned hatred that stemmed from fear.
We let go of our own fears and we forgive. It’s starts with me. It’s starts with you. It starts with allowing the walls that exist to be broken down in order to very tangibly let God start to heal our land, our homes, our families, one person at a time. We aim this heart at the very people closes to us, our brother, our sister, our neighbor and not by just throwing down flowery words, but loving in action and in truth. Lord, show us how to cast out fear and invite love in today.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16–18