What Are We So Afraid Of?

The temperature in the room bumped up a notch. Voices grew increasingly agitated. Emotions intensified. I regretted broaching the subject. 

Admittedly, these realities about Ancient Near Eastern writings would lead us to grapple with beliefs many of us held long and firm and dear. They stretched our faith. But, if we held these realities up to the Sacred Text, it could transform the way we relate to God, to others, and to the world around us. But for now, the mere discussion—of the possibilities, of the implications, of these realities—stirred up turmoil in our Bible study.

Suddenly, in the midst of the commotion, she blurted it out, “What are we so afraid of?” The room fell silent. The petite woman, pushing 80 years of age, had uttered the words of truth that cut through the adversarial atmosphere taking hold. 

In the course of conversation, fear had snuck into the room, and it slithered among us. Twisting words. Stirring up confusion. Creating suspicion. Drawing battle lines between friends. Blaming. Accusing. Beckoning each to draw the sword, and defend her point of view. 

That’s what fear does, and our world is riddled with fearful rhetoric, spawning fearful people…afraid of loosing their identity, their rights, their power…afraid of being deceived, being wrong, being vulnerable…afraid of the unknown, the different, the opposing.

Everything about fear sets itself up against Jesus and His Kingdom. And fear has no place in the life of one who follows Jesus, especially when it comes to loving others. And Jesus made no exceptions for loving others, not even the exception of those people. You know, those people—from the other political party, living that way, believing such things, pushing this ideology. And we can love those people genuinely, humbly, and without fear because…

  • Love does not require agreement or some sort of “right” behavior. (After all, Jesus loved each of us long before we “agreed” with Him or had “right” behavior…as if any of us have perfectly “arrived” at either of those things anyway!)

  • Compassion does not require compromise. (Jesus felt, and acted with, compassion toward all sorts of people without comprising His mission or His ministry or the truth.) 

  • Open-mindedness—the willingness to hear another’s perspective, gaining understanding and, perhaps, even learning something—does not necessitate a change of convictions. (Consider Simon the Zealot, one of the members in Jesus’ Inner Twelve. He thought the Kingdom of God comes by picking up the sword and killing your opponent. Yet, Jesus always knew that the Kingdom of God comes by laying down your life. The cross bears witness that Jesus did not have a change in conviction.)

So, go ahead. Be friends (real friends) with someone different than you. With compassion, move toward someone with whom you disagree. Engage in conversation with someone holding differing views. After all, what are you so afraid of? 

 

Bloody Crime Scene + Sacrificial Love

As they pulled the body from the ambulance, three eyewitnesses gave the same report: “It looks like a crime scene where a murder took place.” The body being pulled from the ambulance was my mom; the location specified as a crime scene was her house!

My mom had called me six hours earlier not feeling right. But following an afternoon spent in three different doctor’s offices—where my mom answered a ton of questions, had blood drawn, and received the good news that “whatever was going on was not her heart”—I left my mom’s house at 5:20 PM, knowing tomorrow’s blood results would point the way forward. 

Twenty minutes later, the “whatever was going on” manifested itself. In a matter of minutes, in two separate rooms, my mom vomited enough blood to drop her blood to “critical” levels, in need of transfusions. She crawled across the floor to retrieve her phone, call me and 911, and unlock the door for the paramedics. 

PAUSE…The source of the bleeding has been located and stopped. Mom is expected to make a full recovery. Over the coming weeks, she will enjoy daily siestas until her body fully replenishes its blood supply.

Now, knowing the end of the story, will you imagine the “crime scene” with me? Bloody vomit. On the kitchen counter splattered on the day’s mail…spilling onto the floor…winding into the bathroom. More blood all over the bathroom. On the shower curtain..splashed onto the door and its frame. Follow the trail into the living room and then the front door. Now, let the bloody vomited mess sit there over night and into the early afternoon in a closed up house at 79 degrees.

Would YOU clean that up? My mom has two friends who did clean up that bloody vomited mess…because they love my mom. Because, they love me and in their words, “a daughter does not need to see this.” Because they love Jesus. 

In a world where most people avoid the messy, the smelly, the ugly, the hard, the painful, inconveniences and interruptions, these friends did something radical and counter-cultural, something so like Jesus. Because these friends know that following Jesus means loving like Jesus. And Jesus did not run away from the world’s bloody crime scene. Because of love, He became a bloody mess to clean up the bloody messes of this world. And Jesus, because of love, still runs toward our bloody crime scenes to clean us up.

“Love on another like I have loved you. In doing this, people will know you belong to My family.” – Jesus, the night before He became a bloody mess to clean up our crime scene

Thank you, friends, for your incredible act of self-sacrificial love and for loving us like Jesus.