When fear is bigger than our faith, what happens? When we are terrified of the number in our bank account, the people in the bathroom stall next to us, the foreigners who seek refuge in our American dream, the impoverished workers seeking jobs to support their family – when we live in fear, we live a life controlled by us. We live a life full of anxiety, worry, and shame. We walk around jumping at our own shadow, building up walls, and shutting doors in other’s faces. Fear separates, isolates, and deteriorates us.
I live in fear of a lot of things. I’m afraid of losing my financial independence, so sometimes I don’t tithe. I’m afraid of my parents being ill or passing away, so I lived at home until I was 24. I’m afraid of another botched relationship, so I try to assess and question my significant other about the future. I’m afraid of failing, so sometimes I don’t even try unless I know I’ll be successful. All that fear prevents me from doing so many things! My fear of failure kept me from pursuing ANY type of career path – I allowed my photography to go by the wayside, I have waited until just this month to further pursue my psychology degree. My fear of finances kept me from giving to God, kept me from even being financially responsible when I did live at home, and left me in default of student loans! All my fear did was hold me back.
Last summer, when I was at my lowest, my momma came down to Alabama to stay with me and make a game plan. Out of fear, and a broken heart, we decided within two days of her being here that I would go back to Massachusetts. I quit my job, I told my landlord I was leaving, I was packing my things. The only thing that stopped me was my best friend telling me she thought Jesus had more for me here than what had just happened. She asked me to give it a month, then decide. That was September 2015. Fear almost stole my purpose from me. Fear almost kept me from Beautifully Broken, from my amazing small group sisters, from my nearly-perfect job. Everything since then has culminated in me walking in my purpose, and because of fear I almost lost it.
God says a lot about fear.
Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. – Proverbs 29:25 NLTThe Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? – Psalms 118:6 NLT
Notice both these verses speak of people having no power over us in comparison to God? When our fear overwhelms us, we forgo the love we should be giving. When Jesus walked into the leper colony, it was not to tell them they should stay away, it was not to tell them they belonged there. It was to love them. It was to tear down those walls. Now I am not saying walk into a leper colony tomorrow, obviously. But the same power that lived in Jesus lives in us. The same love is in us.
And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. – 1 John 4:18 NLT
Perfect love expels all fear. Wow. We are not perfect. We are flawed. We strive to live like Jesus in a world saturated with distraction, temptation, and sin. But do you think Jesus lived in a vacuum world where no distractions existed? I can’t even ask if you think Jesus wasn’t tempted because he was very clearly tempted by Satan himself! Jesus didn’t live in a bubble, folks. He lived in a world chock full of sin. Yet he loved.
He didn’t post fear-mongering flyers on the fence posts. He didn’t whisper to the disciples about how dirty that woman was. He got in the dirt with her. He welcomed them into the places he was staying. He loved on them like no one else had. That is what we are called to do – to love on folks like no one else has before. To stop fearing people who don’t look like us, act like us, or heck even people who don’t make the same choices as we do about their lives. Hold tight to Jesus’ example. Telling people they’re in the wrong bathroom is not going to prove to anyone how much you love Jesus. Building walls to ‘protect’ our people is not going to welcome in new believers. Shutting our doors to people searching for sanctuary is not giving out love.
But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. – Psalms 56:3 NLT
We have the most perfect love given to us by someone who will never leave us, never forsake us, never break His promises to us. We must relinquish control to the only One we can trust. We will only find ourselves in more pain, more worry, more trouble, if we don’t. While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8) – how can we not take that amazing graciousness and give to others, while they are still sinners, while they are still alcoholics, while they are still addicts, while they are still homosexuals, while they are still transgendered, while they are still criminals, while they are still people. Love them. Right where they are, love them, and your fear will vanish.